Feeds

Prof: Use wind turbines as flywheels to smooth output

Revolutionary thinking

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

A team of Wisconsin-based academic engineers have come up with a novel idea for smoothing out wind turbines' erratic power output in gusty conditions. In essence, the Milwaukee team's idea is to use the turbine itself as a giant flywheel to siphon off energy spikes and so offer more consistent output.

The research was led by assistant professor Adel Nasiri of the Power Electronics and Motor Drives Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The paper, Wind power smoothing using rotor inertia aimed at reducing grid susceptibility, is published in the International Journal of Power Electronics.

According to the Milwaukee boffins, "the output power of wind turbines fluctuates. These power fluctuations make the wind power undispatchable. Furthermore, they can cause frequency deviations and power outage particularly when wind power penetration is significant [that is, when there is a large amount of wind power on the grid]".

Thus, according to the engineers, any power grid intending to use large amounts of wind normally needs to use expensive power storage units and/or backup generation to smooth out short-term spikes and troughs in output. But they believe that a useful amount of this can be avoided, by letting the turbine spin faster during gusts - so storing energy in the same way as a rotating flywheel - and only extracting as much power as the grid would like to have. Then, should a lull follow, the energy stored in the fast-spinning windmill can be extracted to bridge the gap.

It seems unlikely that this technique would be able to cope with the days-long calms which some critics of wind power have pointed out as the main weakness of the idea. The potential of wind turbines to fail catastrophically when spun too fast might also be a factor of concern. Nonetheless, the idea of dual-purposing the actual generating turbine itself as a storage flywheel is certainly an elegant one.

Full details of the research are available here. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
Bacon-related medical breakthrough wins Ig Nobel prize
Is there ANYTHING cured pork can't do?
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.