Thursday, May 16, 2013

Small Batteries Could Double Contribution of Renewable Energy

The installation of small batteries on individual renewable energy installations could lift their contribution to the grid by as much as 100 per cent via the mitigation large scale power swings.
While solar and wind power are currently the most prominent and characteristic forms of renewable energy on the market, their widespread adoption has been impeded by their dependence upon fickle weather conditions and the huge swings in power generation that this can create.
Solutions to this dilemma have thus far focused on large-scale storage measures, which permit the absorption of the large amounts of surplus energy produced by solar and wind installations during peak conditions, and their subsequent usage when the weather becomes less conducive to power generation.
According to many industry experts, however, one potential remedy may lie in the use of a multiplicity of small battery units which are far more affordable.
Richard Fioravani, vice president of storage applications at energy consultancy DNV KEMA, says even a modest increase in battery storage at wind farms can increase their contribution to the grid.
According to Fioravanti, the addition of a mere 15 minutes of battery storage to wind farms could lift their contribution to grid capacity from 20 per cent to between 30 and 40 per cent.
The 15 minutes will provide grid operators with ample time to adjust power generation from conventional power plants.
“It’s a great way to catalyze larger amounts of renewables,” he says.
GE is already giving this solution a go with the sale of its first new line of “hybrid” wind turbines. These turbines are equipped with batteries capable of storing the energy generated by the turbines when operating a full pelt for less than a minute.
GE believes that despite their modest storage capacity, the addition of the batteries could ensure the power output of wind farms for up to an hour when used in conjunction with advanced proprietary algorithms developed by the company to forecast weather conditions.
While the batteries comprise only a modest amount of the cost of a turbine, they bring extra economic returns by permitting wind farms to deliver power to the grid even when the air is still.
By Marc Howe