With wind energy increasingly getting established as a mainstream option for electricity generation in many countries, its integration with the conventional grid has emerged as a technological challenge, says the World Wind Energy Association (WWEA).
To explore this issue and the future role of wind power, the group has published a new report looking at the year 2050, when it expects near-100% renewable energy grids will be established.
‘This exciting publication demonstrates the possibilities for a renewables mix on the global level to achieve high percentages of total grid supply and the realization of our 50 percent and 100 percent goals," says WWEA President Peter Rae.
Jami Hossain, chair of the WWEA technical committee and main author of the report, adds, "It is crucial to understand that increased penetration of wind itself is leading to transformation of conventional electricity. [The grid] will undergo changes – it will not be what it is!"
Key recommendations and findings from the report include the following:
- There is a need for flexibility in the power system, which implies a lesser capacity based on nuclear and coal and a larger capacity based on hydro or fast-response units.
- Even in the absence of wind, a power system has to deal with many dynamic parameters, such as availability of plants and variability in load demand. Wind generation only adds to the dynamics in the system.
- A larger number of transmission links needs to be set up from a high-wind resource area to the adjoining areas.
- DC and HVDC technologies need to be deployed, with converters and power electronics that address issues of harmonics and stability.
- There is a need for utility-scale energy storage systems to balance fluctuations.
- There is a need for long-term (one week) and very short-term (one hour) wind farm power output forecasting.
- Wind turbines need to be modified to enable better control and grid-friendly operation, such as curtailed operation or power factor adjustments. Technologies are also required to interface with storage systems with wind turbines or independent of wind turbines
- In large-scale wind generation, variabilities are evened out and pose less of a problem at a system-operation level. However, local variabilities may cause a surge or dip voltage and frequency.
- Smart grid options need to be explored for better communication in different parts of the grid and better control.
- Proliferation of battery storage systems in vehicles, power back-ups in domestic, industrial and commercial establishments can be leveraged to achieve high penetration of wind energy and other renewables.
- Hydro capacity, with the ability to ramp up and ramp down in a matter of minutes, is a good combination with wind energy. Pumped hydro capacity in the system has the same effect.
Stefan Gsanger, secretary general of WWEA, says, "Forty percent wind power in 2050 is a realistic scenario, and the remaining 60 percent will well be covered from other renewable technologies so that the world can reach a 100 percent renewable power supply latest by the middle of this century.’
The report, "Wind Energy 2050: On the Shape of Near 100% Renewable Energy Grid," can be downloaded on the WWEA website.