Active power control of wind turbines can improve power grid reliability

Jan 28, 2014

The Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), along with partners from the Electric Power Research Institute and the University of Colorado have completed a comprehensive study to understand how wind power technology can assist the power grid by controlling the active power output being placed onto the system. The rest of the power system's resources have traditionally been adjusted around wind to support a reliable and efficient system. The research that led to this report challenges that concept.

The study, "Active Power Controls from Wind Power: Bridging the GapsPDF", finds that wind can support the power system by adjusting its power output to enhance system reliability. Additionally, the study finds that it often could be economically beneficial to provide active power control , and potentially damaging loads on turbines from providing this control is negligible. Active power control helps balance load with generation at various times, avoiding erroneous power flows, involuntary load shedding, machine damage, and the risk of potential blackouts.

"Utilities and independent system operators are all seeking strategies to better integrate wind and other variable generation into their electric systems," NREL Analyst Erik Ela said. "Few have considered using wind power to support power system reliability."

The study included a number of different power system simulations, control simulations, and field tests using turbines at NREL's National Wind Technology Center (NWTC). The study developed proposals for new ancillary services designs in U.S. wholesale electricity markets, studied how wind power affects system frequency in the western U.S. with and without active power control, and tested the use of active power control at the NWTC to better understand the performance and structural impacts on wind turbines when providing active power control to the electric system.

"Although many of the control strategies have been proven technically feasible and are used in many regions of the world, only a limited number of wind turbines in the United States are currently providing active power control," Ela said. "The reason is that the stakeholders – system operators, manufacturers, regulators and the plant owners – all have different goals and perspectives. This report covers many different aspects of the topic in order to address the diverse viewpoints throughout the wind industry."

Wind is one of the fastest growing sources of power generation – supplying up to 20% of electricity in many areas of the world. In some regions of the U.S., wind sometimes provides more than 50% of the electric power. The challenge with integrating high concentrations of wind power into electric systems is that it is a variable, uncertain resource, commonly considered "non-dispatchable."

The forms of active power control considered in this study are synthetic inertial control, primary frequency control (PFC), and automatic generation control (AGC) regulation. For wind power to provide active power control services, three things must happen:

  • The wind power response needs to improve power system reliability; not impair it
  • It must be economically viable for wind power plants as well as electricity consumers. Because power plants may incur additional capital costs for the controls and reduce the amount of energy it sells to the market, there must be an incentive to provide the service
  • Active power control should not have negative impacts on the turbine loading or induce structural damage that could reduce the life of the turbine.

The comprehensive study, funded by the Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, analyzed timeframes ranging from milliseconds to the lifetime of , spatial scopes ranging from turbine components to entire regions, and study types ranging from economics to power systems engineering, to control design.

"The study's key takeaway is that can act in an equal or superior manner to conventional generation when providing control, supporting the system frequency response and improving reliability," Ela said.

Explore further: Researchers find ways to minimize power grid disruptions from wind power

More information: Study: www.nrel.gov/docs/fy14osti/60574.pdf

Related Stories

Using fluctuating wind power

Mar 25, 2013

Incorporating wind power into existing power grids is challenging because fluctuating wind speed and direction means turbines generate power inconsistently. Coupled with customers' varying power demand, many ...

Improving energy conversion processes

Dec 03, 2013

(Phys.org) —Renewable energy sources such as wind-powered generators can be more reliable and efficient by better controlling the process of getting electricity onto the power grid, according to a United ...

Renewable sources can provide stable power

Dec 02, 2013

Renewable energy sources - an area in which Germany is a leader - are becoming increasingly important for the worldwide power mix. Nevertheless, experts are still deliberating which market model is best for ...

Recommended for you

The state of shale

Dec 19, 2014

University of Pittsburgh researchers have shared their findings from three studies related to shale gas in a recent special issue of the journal Energy Technology, edited by Götz Veser, the Nickolas A. DeCecco Professor of Che ...

Website shines light on renewable energy resources

Dec 18, 2014

A team from the University of Arizona and eight southwestern electric utility companies have built a pioneering web portal that provides insight into renewable energy sources and how they contribute to the ...

Better software cuts computer energy use

Dec 18, 2014

An EU research project is developing tools to help software engineers create energy-efficient code, which could reduce electricity consumption at data centres by up to 50% and improve battery life in smart ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

nagar
not rated yet Mar 11, 2014
That's good new as it helps a lot in saving more percentage of power generation which in turns helps to increase power efficiency

http://www.servo-...izer.net

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.