WIND farms could become more efficient after a breakthrough by scientists.
New insights into the fluctuations of wind energy have been discovered.
The amount of energy generated by renewables fluctuate. On particularly windy days, for example, surges in power generated by wind turbines have been known to overwhelm the electrical grid, causing power outages.
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Dealing with the peaks and troughs of intermittent renewable energy will become increasingly challenging as governments try to phase out of more stable coal-powered energy sources.
But now Professor Mahesh Bandi, head of the collective interactions unit at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University, Japan, has used experimental wind plant data to explain the statistical nature of these fluctuations.
The study published in Physical Review Letters said wind speed patterns can be depicted as a spectrum on a graph. In the past, some scientists have argued that the power produced by geographically dispersed wind turbines in windy and calm locations at any one point in time will average out when they reach a centralised grid.
But Mr Bandi’s findings show that this phenomenon, known as “geographic smoothing”, only works to a certain extent. A surge in power at one wind turbine plant will coincide with the surge at a far-away plant within the same long time-scale eddy, meaning that the power they provide for the grid cannot be averaged out.
Mr Bandi said: “Understanding the nature of fluctuations in wind turbine power has immediate implications for economic and political decision making.”