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Responding to the Challenges of Wind Variability

Kubik, M (University of Reading)
Thursday 25 April 2013, 09:30-10:00

Seminar Room 1, Newton Institute


The variability of energy supplied from renewable resources is commonly identified as one of the major challenges of integrating renewable energy with existing power systems. In Northern Ireland, with a 40% renewable energy target by 2020, this is a particularly challenging proposition. No existing large-scale electricity grid is able to operate without some minimum level of conventional generation, which is required for both system security and to maintain power quality. This minimum stable generation level restricts the amount of wind energy that can be used to satisfy system demand, any excess of which must be wasted ('curtailed'), at cost, if it cannot be stored. A further system operator concern is the occurrence of low probability, high swings in wind generation that exceed the operational characteristics of conventional units, requiring, for example, fast acting peaking plant to respond to a sudden drop in wind power. As wind power increasingly displaces conventional generation from operating, the capacity of this generation to respond to wind variability diminishes.

The purpose of this talk is to overview a research project investigating both these complex issues using a scenario based approach and a 32 year long reanalysis wind data set, validated alongside historic Northern Ireland and Great Britain wind generation data. Both challenges are quantified and important factors in order to reduce the system impact of curtailment and improve capability are proposed. Power plant modifications, interconnection and battery storage are identified as potential solutions to the challenges faced in Northern Ireland. The complex interrelated nature of interconnected highlights a further mathematical need to understand to what extent interconnector capacity can be relied upon.


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