United States

United States

Support for island systems -- Short term storage

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A technique for smoothing the output from wind turbines over shorter timescales was unveiled in Hawaii in November. The Electronic Shock Absorber (ESA), marketed by S&C Electric Company, uses ultracapacitors to smooth short-term fluctuations and can absorb sudden increases of wind power output and re-inject them into the power system for periods of 15 seconds to a minute.

It is particularly suited for small transmission systems, as well as isolated island grid systems, like those in Hawaii or the Greek islands. In these situations, sharp increases in output from wind farms can potentially degrade power quality to a much greater extent than in larger interconnected systems.

According to the Rocky Mountain Institute, ultracapacitors "store electricity by physically separating positive and negative charges -- unlike batteries which do so chemically. The charge they hold is like the static electricity that can build up on a balloon, but is much greater thanks to the extremely high surface area of their interior materials. With no moving parts, they have a very long lifespan."

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