27 Jan 2020, 14:27
Benjamin Wehrmann

Research project seeks to stabilise German power grid with wind turbines

Clean Energy Wire

A new research project aimed at solving one of the major technological difficulties of the energy transition is seeking to use the energy from wind turbines' moving rotors and generators - and if necessary additional energy storage systems - to stabilise the power grid, the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU) says. "In order to guarantee grid stability, it's necessary that power plants can react to varying power demand," said Holger Wrede of the Düsseldorf University for Applied Sciences, adding that the development of a new converter for wind and solar power installations could overcome the difficulties renewables still have in this regard. Renewables currently cannot bridge the supply gap of "controllable energy" that may occur when power demand quickly spikes and which could lead to a collapse of the grid. This is currently managed with reserve capacities in large steam turbines or generators. Moreover, renewables could not yet restart the grid by themselves in the event of a blackout, said Dirk Schötz of DBU. He said the procedure developed by the university could make it possible to use the energy of spinning turbine rotors and generators to fulfil controllable energy tasks with wind power.

Renewables reached a share of over 40 percent in Germany's gross power production in 2019, with roughly half of the contributed energy coming from onshore and offshore wind power turbines. Despite initial concerns over possible grid instability brought by renewables, average power outage time in the country has actually fallen as the expansion of renewable sources progressed. Apart from extreme weather events, price speculation on the power market in 2019 was suspected of causing strains on the grid.

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