By DARA BUTTERFIELD
Heriot-Watt University and Gaia Wind – a leading Scottish manufacturer of small scale wind turbines – have teamed up to research a solution to balancing energy supply for wind power.
Communities in places not connected to a grid or where the electricity grid has limited capacity face serious challenges to utilise local electricity sources effectively. Most local energy sources are variable and at the same time the local demand varies rapidly over time causing obvious balancing issues.
The Heriot-Watt team led by energy experts Valentin Robu, Wolf Gerrit Fruh and David Corne will apply research carried out at Heriot-Watt for the design and control of a novel wind turbine and storage system being developed by Gaia Wind.
A recent initiative of Glasgow-based Gaia Wind has been to develop and commercialise a novel system for “weak grid” environments, where the connection to the electricity grid is poor or non-existent, e.g., remote communities or islands. Such a system could include, besides a wind turbine, an electrical storage unit (a battery) as well as a back-up generator (a diesel generator).
One challenge the team will address is to design the system to balance the electricity not only over short time scales such as a day but also over a seasonal time scale. For this, the wind speed and its variability has to be predicted at the location where the system is installed, to predict the output of the wind turbine over a short and medium time horizon
A second challenge is for during system operation: if more electricity is needed than the wind turbine provides, the team is to discover if it is better to make use of the battery or if it is better to leave the charge in the battery for future use and use the back-up generator.
For more information: contact the Heriot Watt Energy Academy @energy.hwu.ac.uk