OSU Program Will Research Wind Variability

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A new research program at Oregon State University (OSU) proposes to tackle one of the major remaining problems with wind energy – providing a steady or predictable flow of electricity.

A new $725,000 research project will help address the issue of energy storage systems, with $358,000 from the Bonneville Power Administration, and other cost-share funding from the Central Lincoln People's Utility District, OSU and the Oregon Built Environment and Sustainable Technologies Center. The goal of the initiative is to find ways to smooth out wind energy variability, so it can more fully take its place as a dependable form of alternative energy for Oregon and the nation.

‘Even with traditional electrical energy production systems, the constantly fluctuating demand for electricity and dependability of energy sources have been a problem,’ says Annette von Jouanne, professor of electrical engineering at OSU. ‘Those challenges are simply greater with wind energy, and we're realizing that we have to do more with storage systems, bring down the costs and optimize the control of these systems. There's a lot of room for improvement here.’

To deal with short-term wind fluctuations on the order of a few minutes, researchers will examine such technologies as different types of batteries, supercapacitors that function as a high energy storage device, flywheels that use mechanical approaches to store energy and a concept called superconducting magnetic energy storage.

As part of this project, a new test platform with generators used in the wind industry will be created in OSU's Wallace Energy Systems and Renewables Facility. Sudden changes in load will be experimentally simulated, and the effects of unbalanced system voltages and loading will be investigated. Optimal ways to integrate wind technology and energy storage will also be examined.

SOURCE: Oregon State University

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