Brilliant Wind Turbines – with OnBoard Storage
July 18, 2013
GE made a big energy industry splash recently when it introduced its Brilliant 1.6-100 wind turbine and power management system at the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) WINDPOWER 2013 exhibition in Chicago in early May. One of the first utility-scale wind power systems to incorporate short-term, grid-scale battery storage, the GE Brilliant 1.6-100 addresses one of the criticisms (if not the biggest and most frequently cited criticism) of wind energy: its intermittent nature.
Already cost-competitive with thermal coal and natural gas power generation – not to mention its numerous other often ignored and unaccounted for social and ecological benefits and cost savings, which are substantial – GE’s looking to drive the cost of wind energy down further, pushing the envelope outward by incorporating “industrial Internet” capabilities and short-term, grid-scale power storage in the Brilliant 1.6-100 systems platform.
Enabling wind farm owners and operators to more efficiently and cost-effectively convert wind energy into electricity and supply it to power grids improves the economics of utility-scale wind power. One aspect of this is the capacity to generate additional revenue by selling electricity into the frequency regulation segments of regional grid power markets.
In the range of ~5% up to ~8.5% of annual energy captured is lost due to ramp rate curtailment, according to the US Dept of Energy “2011 Wind Technologies Market Report”, which was released in August 2012. “These losses stem from the fact that the grid isn’t as flexible as it could be and wind customers would benefit from recapturing some of that lost energy,” Theile explained.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s pay-for-performance regulation – FERC 755: “Frequency Regulation Compensation in the Organized Wholesale Power Markets” – requires grid operators to pay power suppliers accordingly (i.e. more for electricity that can be brought onto the grid faster in order to match load demand).
Given adequate wind, turbines can ramp up from a cold start to full capacity in a matter of minutes. This quick-start capability confers wind farms a decided advantage over thermal coal and natural gas–fired power plants when it comes to balancing electricity supply and demand.
On the other hand, it often means that wind farm operators have to spill wind – reduce the amount of wind energy they capture, convert to electricity, and feed into the grid – ramping up to full output more gradually than is possible in order to accommodate grid conditions, a situation that Longtin likened to “dollars flying by” in the wind.
Integrating short-term, grid-scale battery storage into the Brilliant 1.6-100 system platform enables wind farm operators to capture the energy that’s now blowing by in the wind. The system’s Ramp Control features enable this wasted wind energy to be harnessed, converted to electricity, then stored in battery banks as electrochemical energy. It can then be sold and fed into the grid later in the day at a moment’s notice.
Moreover, “by integrating short-term grid storage into the system, we can go real-time into a wind turbine converter’s DC (direct current) bus, eliminating a big chunk of the power electronics,” Longtin elaborated. Conversely, taking advantage of battery storage also confers benefits when ramping down a wind turbine, smoothing out the electrical flow into the grid by drawing on batteries to supply power to the grid more evenly.