Feeds

Prof: Use wind turbines as flywheels to smooth output

Revolutionary thinking

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
Human spacecraft dodge COMET CHUNKS pelting off Mars
Odyssey orbiter yet to report, though - comet's trailing trash poses new threat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.