Wind Energy Is Variable, But Is It Really

How Often Do You Drive By A Windmill And See It Sitting Idle?

Quite often I would think. But that doesn’t mean the wind has stopped blowing everywhere.

Wind energy is being up loaded to the grid in multiple locations. And there are wind forecasts that allow the engineers who control the grid to plan ahead for where the power will be coming from for each period of time.

Here is an infographic and article that helps to explain that wind is not all that variable.


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1. The more wind turbines we install, the less additional variability there is in the amount of power that they produce. As people know from their daily lives, the amount of wind blowing is constantly changing. However, even if one area with a wind farm is not very windy on a given day, another area may be, so their changes in output cancel each other out. The figure below based on data from a study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory shows this phenomenon in action. Variability, represented on the y-axis (measured as the hourly change in output per megawatt of installed wind capacity), decreases as the amount of wind power (measured in megawatts of wind capacity) increases:

2.The changes in wind are gradual and increasingly predictable. Contrast that with the unpredictable, abrupt failures of conventional power plants, which can lead to a huge drop in the energy supply. The cost of accommodating the potential failures of these plants is far greater than accommodating the gradual, predictable changes of wind farms.

Read about the other two boxes in the infographic back at the original article


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