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Solving the Storage Problem …

The wind energy business is becoming more and more an international industry. Europe, the USA and India are the driving forces, but other nations are also becoming active in this field. One of the biggest growth markets seems to be China. The Chinese government’s initial target is for wind power generation to reach 4,000MW by 2010. By 2020, up to 12% of China’s electricity could come from renewable sources. Over the past years, the international wind power capacity has continued to grow at an average cumulative rate of 29%. According to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), the future prospects of the global wind industry are very promising: even on a conventional scenario the total wind power installed worldwide could quadruple from 40GW in 2003 to 160GW by 2012.

{access view=!registered}Only logged in users can view the full text of the article.{/access}{access view=registered}I have mentioned before the importance of investigating the possibilities for storage of generated energy. If the projected figures of growth become reality, it is clear we need sufficient ways to do this. I am glad to see that the industry is working on solutions for this issue. For instance, the Canadian company Hydrogenics Corporation is going to deliver a hydrogen station to Gas Natural SDG, a Spanish-based energy services company. The Hydrogenics’ HySTAT-A Hydrogen Station at the Sotavento Galicia wind farm will be used to produce up to 60Nm3/hour of hydrogen. The hydrogen will be used to fuel an internal combustion engine generator, which in turn will supply electricity to the grid. This is the sixth renewable energy project in which Hydrogenics has been involved.

But the use of hydrogen is not the only solution to store unused energy. Other energy storage technologies currently in use or being evaluated for use in conjunction with renewable energy resources are flywheels, flow batteries and compressed air energy storage (CAES). These topics will be addressed in future issues of Windtech International.

A problem of these technologies could be that dedicated storage or back-up adds capital cost to wind power. Willett Kempton and Amardeep Dhanju from the University of Delaware (USA) have come up with a solution to avoid these additional costs. In their article, they propose vehicle-to-grid power (V2G) as a storage resource for large-scale wind power. Instead of investigating new solutions, the authors focused on unused storage already in the system. Although the automobile and electricity industry are not ready for this solution, this could be a valuable way to store energy in the future. On page 18 you will find more detailed information about their approach. We will follow the progress with much interest and keep you posted.

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Floris Siteur
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