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Canada

Canada

Storage exploration from hydrogen

A variety of solutions to the problem of assimilating variable power sources into electricity systems continue to emerge as potential competitors to running thermal plant on part load -- currently the cheapest way of coping with variations in wind output (Windpower Monthly, April 1998).

A Canadian company, "Cold Wind Power," argues that an effective way of harnessing wind energy is to use the electrical output from the generator to heat water in a series of modules, or small tanks, which can then be drawn upon as required. The target market appears to be schools, shopping centres and factories, using wind turbines with output around 3 kW. Such a unit, it is argued, can generate energy on a windy site at a price of around $0.06/kWh, resulting in a pay back period of less than seven years.

Another solution is to generate hydrogen, though it is not one advocated by many researchers for backing up wind systems. The hydrogen lobby argues that production of hydrogen from wind provides cheap storage, although accurate costing, which takes into account the inevitable losses in transforming electricity into hydrogen and then again into some other form of energy, need to be taken into account. The precise extent of hydrogen's future penetration in energy systems remains uncertain until the debate moves forward and encourages more accurate assessments and costing of the possibilities.

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