As we have already said on numerous occasions, the problem with solar and wind energy is that it isn’t available 24/7. Due to variations in the wind and solar intensity or presence, the energy generated would differ in quantity as well. So researchers have been looking for ways to store it for longer and have come up with geothermal and molten salt. Nevertheless, its incorporation into the grid also needs to be regulated.
While the Germans are working on relaying the energy flow and storing it, the Americans from General Electric are handling the energy fluctuations in the grid.
They invested more than $500 million for building a power plant that rapidly adapts the energy flow in the grid to the production of renewable energy. This week’s announcement is good news, but what it’s truly remarkable is the fact that the company designed the product for the European and Asian power grids.
They are different from the US “homologue,” because the latter uses 60 hertz, while the other 2 continents use 50 Hz. The company even has its Vice Chairman John Rice moved to Asia to supervise the growth of the market there. In other words, it wasn’t this technical detail that decided the faith of the plant, but the fact that the US market has lost its No.1 place on the world market.
Having that faith, GE hopes to receive its first orders from Europe by the end of this year, while scheduling the deliveries starting 2014. In what the US market is concerned, a version specifically designed for it will have to wait some time longer.
The plan’s capacity is around 510 MW, intended to supply with electricity 600,000 typical EU homes. Inspired by a technology used for GE jet engines, the plant could bear energy demand spikes of up to 50 MW/minute.
The difference comes with the fact that other gas turbines are not able to make this power change in such a short time – they need a constant, regular rate to function properly. We think that with this problem solved too, we can pretty much feel at peace with the renewable energy revolution, until we actually put into practice at a large scale!