RFC on Windpower.
I had an interesting conversation with a friend the other day, one that is an avid wind power proponent, acting for more wind power and reliance on the same.
Me, being the one I am, a multi-discipline engineer, opposed his ideas, and started explaining the issues, and laid out all the caveats of wind power feeding the grid. (this is something that has been bugging me for years... )
In my humble opinion, there is only one situation where wind power can work, and work in a good way, taken it's intermittent and low-grade supply nature.
wind power has to regulate it's output heavily to fit the grid, and is suceptible to great losses when phase is out due to ineffective configurations against wind.
My proposal, which in fact seems to have been overlooked, and has gotten some interest with major energy companies is as simple as effective.
Group a very small number of mills, and sync them together, even if not running at grid frequency, that is below or above, doesnt matter, if they are driving a synchronos engine.
That electric engine, would be driving a pump, filling a pump dam.
Add a few groups of these, running their own pump, and you can make use of low-grade wind, or even overpower wind, situations where you would normally take the generators offline, rather than adopting pitch angle to still work.
Low, normal or high wind, would no longer matter, and any generation capacity could be used.
Never mind the losses of about 30%, as the energy is for, technially - free..
The real benefit of this would be that moving water (high density energy into a dam), would be a reliable source, on tap, as and whe demand hits, even when it doesn't blow.
You would know exactly how much energy you have on tap, at what cost, ready to tap when demand hits, and if empty? you'd still know.
the major benefit is that you do get hours of prewarning of shortage, and minutes to consistent and reliable supply for a given time, enough to spin up reserve capacity as needed, without having to have 0.9MW/MW wind power on standby at any given time, but instead using wind power to create backup energy, on tap, giving hours if not days of prewarning of any shortage, all at cheap costs, as well as conditions where wind power would not be able to feed the grid due to low wind conditions.
I believe that this is one of the very few conditions where wind power would make sense and become a reliable source.
The fact that you could use it's low-grade periods which accounts for nearly 50% of the time in real-life environments, would be the breaker for making it a viable source, overcoming the current (environmental and ecomomical) 1:1 cost to production barrier, as well as allowing placement in what traditionally would be considered sub-optimal locations.
This combination would also apply to any other energy supply that is intermittent in nature.
The direct grid supply demands highly reliable sources, that offers at least and hour or two of warning if supply is to go out, to keep it stable, or having massive oversupply to compensate for intermittent shortfalls, which has to be burnt off in resistive "burn loads", effectively being giant heating elements in the open air, burning off excessive energy on demand not to fry the grid from the oversupply, only to be turned off when the supply shortens, all, for which the consumers pay dearly.
The proposed pump-dam solution, would be good for consumers, despite the losses, as well as producers, as they can supply "on tap"..
The non-direct supply, can run effectively at anything from 20-100hz supply, while the grid requires 50 or 60 +/- 0.2 Hz supply, regardless of generating conditions.
A windmill has to run at a minimum 5m/s windspeed to keep up, but most winds are less, especially at calm days, and the frequency difference would be so great that the losses of transformation would surpass the capacity of the transforming equipment, rendering anything below 5m/s useless, where in this scenario, driving sync pump motors out of the grid at say 30-200Hz, would make perfect sense, with no transformation losses at all, apart from the losses in mechanical transmission of the water.
for the producer, it would make sense, as peak energy comes at a premium, and for many nations, peak energy is the difference betweeen rolling blackouts or supply.
Spinning up the outlet of a hydrodam, is done in minutes, and once synched, as long as you have water in the dam, you can reliably predict both runtime and power supply, offering stability and reserves for a stable grid.
The end of the discussion was that he reevaluated his thoughts, and started to think about it.
He ended up agreeing that direct-fed raw power may not be such a good idea after all, and that this one, may be a solution where wind power can actually fit in and become a viable solution, taken the changes in approach to it that is needeed.
Let me know what you think.