Offshore Wind Farm Industry Takes Off in the United States

by Genevieve Kules

The offshore wind farm industry appears to be growing despite the current political disinclination towards environmentally friendly energy initiatives. In 2016 Deepwater Wind created the US’s first offshore wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island’s Block Island consisting of five turbines. In January of 2017 Deepwater Wind submitted permits for approval of fifteen turbines off the coast of Long Island, NY. This could only be the start for the construction of over 200 turbines nearby.

Offshore wind farms are far more prominent in Europe, and China has a wind farm with enough turbines to power a small country, but lack of buyers has left many of those turbines unused. Continue reading

Offshore Wind Farm Industry Takes Off in the United States

by Genevieve Kules

The offshore wind farm industry appears to be growing despite the current political disinclination towards environmentally friendly energy initiatives. In 2016 Deepwater Wind created the US’s first offshore wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island’s Block Island consisting of five turbines. In January of 2017 Deepwater Wind submitted permits for approval of fifteen turbines off the coast of Long Island, NY. This could only be the start for the construction of over 200 turbines nearby.

Offshore wind farms are far more prominent in Europe, and China has a wind farm with enough turbines to power a small country, but lack of buyers has left many of those turbines unused.

Now, in the United States, offshore wind farms could be a promising energy resource. Many large oil corporations have invested in wind energy and Google says their data centers and offices will be completely run on renewable energy in 2017. Continue reading

Construction to Begin on Largest Wind Farm in the World

by Isaiah Boone

In a recent article posted on ScienceAlert, David Nield examines the impact of the final investment in a project that will construct the largest wind farm in the world off the shores of the United Kingdom. The project known as Horsea Project One is being led by a danish firm, DONG Energy, and is expected to be completed in 2020. The addition of Horsea Project One is expected to significantly increase the total wind energy production in the UK once it is completed. Continue reading

Microgrid Micromanagement

by Briton Lee

One of the issues with the integration of alternative energy, such as solar and wind power, into the electricity grid is their volatile load swings. Automation and microgrids seek to address this issue of fluctuating energy and make renewables more amenable to integration. Solar and wind power are unpredictable, and fluctuations occur simply when a cloud passes over a solar grid. Another problem is that solar energy is generally produced during the day and not during the night, whereas human electricity use peaks in the evening. Generally, humans have to manually monitor and balance energy production and consumption in order to manage the electrical loads. The entire grid is tightly monitored, and the formulas used to keep the grid in check are thrown off when renewables are included. Renewables are unpredictable because it’s unclear when the energy will come in, since energy is not stored but rather threaded directly into the grid. Continue reading

Hamburg is an Industrial City Reborn with a Renewable Energy Economy

by Liza Farr

Increasing regulation of fossil fuels and pollution, and the shift of jobs from industrial to tech has left many industrial cities with struggling economies. In Germany, the industrial city of Hamburg has fought this trend and is now known as the center of renewable energy for the nation. This past October, HusumWind, one of the world’s largest wind power conferences, was held in Hamburg (Hales, Oct 9 2014). There are already 5,000 wind industry employers in the city, and that number is expected to double with the expansion of offshore wind facilities (Hales, Oct 9 2014). Nearly all the leading international wind companies have offices in the region (Hales, Oct 9, 2014). Twenty five thousand people are already working in renewable energy in Hamburg, and experts predict this number will grow by 40% by 2015 (Renewable Energy Hamburg, October 2012). Nineteen hundred and eighty green tech companies with 33,400 employees are based in the city (Hales Oct 9, 2012). The city is the central planning location for solar farms in Germany and across the world, and the most important development and management location for wind power in Germany (Renewable Energy Hamburg, October 2012). Continue reading

Accuracy of Models for Wind and Tidal Turbines

by Cassandra Burgess

Computation Fluid Dynamic models are used to investigate the influence of rotating wind and tidal energy generator turbines on the surrounding environments. Johnson et al. (2014), compared current analytical and numerical models and experimental findings to a new computational fluid dynamic (CFD) model, and found that the CFD model agreed well with a simple conservation of momentum model, but did not closely match the experimental and numerical findings on reactions to the spinning turbines. This result was especially pronounced far from the turbine. The numerical and experimental findings predict much more turbulence downstream from a turbine, and larger changes in velocity. Continue reading

Will Windpower Increase Hydroelectric Environmental Impacts?

by Emil Morhardt

Hydroelectric projects can be terrific for meeting peak electricity load demands; if they store water in reservoirs, they can release it more-or-less instantly to generate electricity just in time to meet the demand. This is what pumped storage hydroelectric facilities are designed to do from the start, usually pumping water uphill from one reservoir to another to store energy, then letting it flow back down when energy is needed. The only potential significant environmental impact from this operational phase would result from reservoir water-level changes during the cycle. In a non-pumped-storage situation where the reservoir is behind a dam on a river and the peaking strategy with the best economics is to release practically no water until needed for peaking, then to release a lot, there are plenty of potential downstream environmental impacts. Such a strategy is utilized in the mid-Atlantic US by some utilities. In a paper just accepted by the journal Environmental Science & Technology, researchers at the University of North Carolina and Duke University looked at releases at Roanoke Rapids Dam on the Roanoke River and tried to figure out if adding wind to the mix of renewable power would increase or decrease these potential impacts (Kern et al. 2014). Despite earlier suggestions that it would, they decided not, based on the model results that predicted very little increase in the downstream “flashiness” over current operational conditions, even with 25% new wind market penetration….

Continue reading

Supercapacitors save Windpower Batteries

Supercapacitor

by Emil Morhardt

Windpower, because it is intermittent, works best on the electrical grid if it has some energy-storage facility connected to it. Batteries are the simplest approach, and the low cost of lead-acid batteries makes them good candidates, but they resent being randomly charged and discharged (especially deeply discharged) at the will of the wind, and die prematurely. Enter the supercapacitor; it can be charged by wind turbines much faster than a battery, can deliver its stored energy to the grid much faster as well, and doesn’t resent it at all, even being deeply discharged at every cycle. Engineers at Kocaeli University connected a supercapacitor in parallel with a battery (see diagram above) so that it would buffer transient current surges, saving the battery to do what it does best. The system worked just like one might expect, but there are some graphs in the paper showing just how the current flowed, and I think it is a nice example of an experimental setup to look into these types of hybrid energy storage systems. (The diagram is from their paper. There’s a link to it below.)

Erhn, K., Aktas, A., Ozdemir, E., 2014. Analysis of a Hybrid Energy Storage System Composed from Battery and Ultra-capacitor, 7th International Ege Energy Symposium & Exhibition, June 18-20, 2014, Usak, Turkey   http://bit.ly/1neZfey

Please send suggestions for other recent papers appropriate for this blog to emorhardt@cmc.edu.

Energy Storage Industry Watch—SustainX ICAES

by Emil Morhardt

SustainX’s idea is to compress air and store it in tanks which could be placed anywhere; for example adjacent to a wind farm as shown in their illustration above. This differs from the more common idea of storing the compressed air underground, which has plenty of uncertainty associated with it and not all that many locations that will work. They compress and decompress the air isothermally (so it doesn’t heat up) using renewable sources (nominally excess wind and solar generation) when it is not needed on the grid, or when it could be served to the grid more profitably at peak times. To make it isothermal they use a piston and crankshaft device connected to an electrical machine, spraying water into each cylinder to absorb or capture excess heat. Construction of a 1.5 MW demonstration plant at their headquarters in New Hampshire was announced last September (http://bit.ly/1k4ZE8l0) but there are no new releases on their website since.

Below is some discriptive information from SustainX’s most recent patent application.

Continue reading