Wind power is on the rise these days. As the nation advances toward the electricity grid of the future, renewable power sources like wind and solar are poised to take up a larger share of our electricity generation. For renewable fuel sources to truly meet the demand necessary to power the country's electrical work, however, the technology will have to continue to improve. Now, a prototype from a researcher at the University of Nebraska could help wind power make a big leap forward. Read on to learn more.
The Future of the Nation's Electrical Work
Windmill farms are already popping up across rural America, and the technology could provide as much as one third of all power generated in the United States by 2050, according to a Department of Energy estimate. But we're still leaving a lot of capacity on the table – modern wind turbines can only capture up to a given wind speed. When the wind gusts beyond the limit, any excess energy is lost due to mechanical spillage.
However, doctoral student Jie Cheng at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln thinks he has found a solution. Cheng designed a system that captures that spillage in an air compression tank, which stores it until the wind slows down, then releases it to give the turbine more power during what otherwise would be downtime. The upshot: more electricity with no extra inputs necessary.
Smoothing the Bumps in Production
The system, Cheng projects, would capture enough excess electricity from a conventional 250 kilowatt wind turbine to power an additional 18 homes, in addition to cutting total costs and evening out the variation in power production. "The biggest problem for wind energy is that it's not a reliable energy resource," Cheng said to ECN Magazine. "Even if there's not enough wind to generate electricity, the community still needs it. If we can (scale up) this system, it could improve reliability by producing electricity even when there's no wind."
His system is not yet in use in any commercial turbines, but the university is exploring partnerships to test its viability and help push it into production. If the invention lives up to its promise, it could be the next big advancement in wind power generation, which in turn could help renewable energy capture an even greater share of the future market.
How Can Wind Power Prove Helpful to You?
If you want to learn more about renewable power options for your electrical work, contact a qualified electrician today.