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Wind Turbines + Batteries = Stable Power Supplies

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Wind turbineBy pairing a hybrid wind turbine’s battery with a wind-forecasting algorithm, wind farm operators might be able to guarantee a specified amount of power output for nearly an hour. If this pairing is possible, then integrating intermittent renewable energy might become much easier and lower the cost of wind power.

It’s difficult to determine the actual cost of renewable energy without understanding how much energy storage is needed in the first place. In the past, the focus has been on creating inexpensive batteries that can store wind power at night for later use.

However, if the renewables are deployed quickly and the solar and wind resources are different in different areas, these large batteries won’t actually be needed for decades. So, more practically speaking, smaller, more affordable batteries make it possible to use renewable energy for a large fraction of the power on the grid.

When relatively little renewable energy is on an electricity grid, fluctuations in supply can easily be absorbed without any battery storage. As the amount of renewable energy on the grid increases, existing methods for coping with variability are critical. Otherwise voltage problems or even blackouts might occur. The exact point when renewables become a problem depends on a host of variables. Often, renewables account for 20% of the grid capacity without causing trouble.

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