Energy from the wind is in principle free and should thus be an undivided blessing for a powerhungry world. However, the supply of wind is constantly out of pace with the demand for electrical power, causing the local market prices to fluctuate wildly. These fluctuations create a strong incentive to store the energy, and this incentive grows as the share of wind energy in the grid increases.
By Kent Krøyer
Storing large quantities of energy is expensive, and the most efficient technologies are not available for all. This issue of OceanWise sums up an array of current technical possibilities with their pros and cons, together with proposals for the future. Read “Storing energy: A challenge for renewable energy”, page 6.
As a supplement to storing energy, the price fluctuations can also be lessened by exporting and importing surplus energy to other nations. However, this solution demands an expensive infrastructure that grows in price as the distance increases. Direct current is the modern technology of choice, but key components are still missing. The article “Power islands at sea: Key components are now being developed” looks at this subject, page 12.
Once the grid structure is in place, the road is open for the faceless hordes of commuting electrons. The article “Energy loss along the way from wind turbine to living room” follows a pack of energy carriers on their way through power stations and converters, page 14.
The picture shows the power lines in Suffolk, England. Photo: Wikipedia/Tony Boon
The theme concludes with a visual tour of the control center of a major wind farm operator, Vattenfall. From this room, dominated by flat screens, all turbines are monitored around the clock, and service ships or helicopters are dispatched whenever a wind turbine needs attention, page 16.