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Wind turbines operate under great turbulence, with consequences for grid stability

Lisa Zyga — Phys.org — April 19, 2013

While previous research has shown that wind turbulence causes the power output of wind turbines to be intermittent, a new study has found that wind turbulence may have an even greater impact on power output than previously thought. The researchers modeled the conversion of wind speed to power output using data from a rural wind farm. The results showed that the intermittent properties of wind persist on the scale of an entire wind farm, and that wind turbines do not only transfer wind intermittency to the grid, but also increase it. The findings highlight the importance of fully understanding the physics of wind turbulence in order to ensure future grid stability.

The researchers, Patrick Milan, Matthias Wachter, and Joachim Peinke, at the ForWind—Center for Wind Energy Research at the University of Oldenburg in Germany, have published their study “Turbulent Character of Wind Energy” in a recent issue of Physical Review Letters.

In their paper, the researchers address the challenges that large-scale wind energy production may bring to future . They explain that today’s grids are powered mainly by a few large generators with controllable input (mostly gas, coal, hydraulic, and ). Power generation from these sources can be modified automatically in order to balance power generation and consumption, and thus ensure grid stability. But while today’s power sources are largely controllable,  is uncontrollable and highly intermittent.  Continue reading, here…

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