A Grid of Wind Turbines to Pick Up the Slack

April 14, 2010 at 8:40 AM Leave a comment

Like most other sources of alternative energy, the wind can be intermittent. It does not blow uniformly, so power output from wind turbines rises and falls. And when the wind doesn’t blow at all, output drops to zero.

Intermittency is not much of a problem now in the United States, since there are relatively few wind farms and plenty of interconnected conventional power plants to pick up the slack when wind output falls, keeping the power supply stable. But if the proportion of electricity supplied by wind were to grow to, say, 20 percent or more, it would become increasingly difficult to handle the fluctuations in output.

One proposed solution to the intermittency problem is to tie many wind farms together with a transmission line — making an electric grid, as it were, consisting of wind turbines. Now, Willett Kempton of the Center for Carbon-free Power Integration at the University of Delaware and colleagues have shown how this “all-for-one” approach might work with offshore wind farms along the Eastern Seaboard.

The researchers looked at five years of wind data from 11 sites from Maine to Florida, and calculated potential hourly power output for a typical turbine at each site. As they write in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they found that, as expected, fluctuating wind conditions caused power output to rise and fall at each site and sometimes reach zero.

But since wind conditions can differ greatly over the 1,500 miles of coastal ocean, when the researchers simulated connecting all the sites with a high-voltage undersea transmission line, the overall output became much more stable — reaching full or low power less often and never, over the five years studied, reaching zero power.

No offshore wind farms have been built yet, though several are in the planning stages. Operators would then have to agree to build the undersea transmission line, which could cost well over a billion dollars. “But the whole idea is that it would pay off over time,” Dr. Kempton said.

Click HERE for article


Entry filed under: Conservation, Green News, Green Tech. Tags: , , , .

Target Opens Recycling Centers in All 1,740 Stores 26,617 condoms and one global mess

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

University of San Francisco: unplugged

USFUNPLUGGED is brought to you by the Environmental Safety Community Outreach Liaison’s of USF. Here to educate, assist and encourage, we want you to get involved with the GREEN movement taking place on campus!

Unplugged Rewind

%d bloggers like this: