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United States

Lab study ignores cost -- Storage for wind

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Storage of electricity from wind plant, with a view to using it when demand exceeds supply, is currently an expensive option compared with cranking up other existing generation to fill the gap, but interest in the concept continues. A $750,000 Oregon State University (OSU) research project is to explore various wind power storage ideas. Researchers will report back to the region's grid operator, Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), in the fall with their findings from a laboratory mock up that includes a 30 kW system intended to simulate a scaled-down wind farm, hydro system and local grid. "We're going to integrate it with some digital signal processing, such that it models the output of a wind farm," says Ted Brekken, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at OSU. "It will have a variable output over time, and then we'll also couple energy storage into the entire system." The team will examine the storage properties of zinc-bromide batteries, flywheels and super capacitors. The study will take into consideration the Pacific Northwest's abundant hydro resources, which could effectively provide storage of wind power. "We're approaching things from a very technical perspective and trying to show a proof of concept," Brekken says. "The cost part is not our first consideration." BPA provided half of the funding, with the rest coming from the Central Lincoln People's Utility District, the Oregon Built Environment and Sustainable Technologies Center and OSU. "We're hoping to demonstrate, in the lab, that energy storage could meet a predicted power output from a wind energy resource," Brekken says. "Ultimately, we'll make a recommendation and then it's up to BPA to act on that information as they see fit." Energy storage has significant potential as a demand-side resource but is not needed to integrate wind power in to the grid, cautions the American Wind Energy Association's expert on the subject, Jeff Anthony.

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