A team of researchers at the University of Western Ontario has developed a new way to use solar and wind power installations to reduce costs and improve their cost efficiency. Two Ontario power companies have already signed on to use the new technology.
Solar power has limitations and its components (other than the cells) are underused most of the time. Solar cells don’t work efficiently when outside is cloudy and not at all at night.
In the meanwhile, wind turbines work very well at night but are often constrained by the power grid’s inability to manage the energy produced by them and are often constrained by lower electricity demand, whereas solar devices are idle precisely when wind power is peaking.
Researchers have come up with a new method to allow more wind power to get into Ontario’s power grid, by making use of idle solar components as inexpensive regulators that will modulate electricity surges from wind generation.
The idea is to put solar farms to work, even when the solar cells themselves are sleeping. This kind of approach enables wind power producers to make themselves cost-efficient.
According to Rajiv Varma, a UWO professor of electrical engineering, if a solar farm is placed near a wind farm, the cost for both is reduced, because they are capable to work 24 hours a day. The company also plans to bring the technology to a large-scale wind farm.