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GE to install first wind turbines with battery storage

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General Electric, now ranking with Vestas as the biggest maker of wind turbines in the world, has announced that it will supply three of its new turbines that include battery storage as part of an 86-turbine order for a new Texas wind farm.

GE says its modestly named 2.5-120 Brilliant turbine will incorporate short-term power-storage capabilities, using software to analyse wind speeds and batteries to retain excess power during gusty periods so that electricity can be fed into the grid when wind declines, thus smoothing the output.

As the online magazine Quartz reports today, the rap against wind energy is that it’s fickle, generating massive amounts of electricity one hour and next to nothing the next.

But what if every wind turbine became a node in an energy internet, communicating with the grid and each other to adjust electricity production while storing and releasing electricity as needed? That, it says, is the idea behind GW’s Brilliant turbine, which captures tens of thousands of data points each second on wind and grid conditions and then adjusts production, storing electricity in an attached 50kWh sodium nickel chloride battery.

“This provides a path for lowering the cost of energy even more,” Keith Longtin, general manager of GE’s wind product line, told Quartz. “We think by being able to integrate the storage into the turbine and by being able to provide predictable power it’s going to minimize a lot of the balancing the grid has to do today.”

The Quartz article continues:

That’s also good for the environment. Currently, utilities rely on carbon-spewing natural gas-fired power plants to balance electricity generated from intermittent renewable energy sources like wind and solar.

The turbine’s algorithms predict what electricity generation and demand will be over the next 15 minutes to an hour and adjust production accordingly. The battery can store up to 60 minutes of electricity.

That could mean more revenue for wind farm operators. When turbines generate more electricity than the grid can accommodate, that power is wasted. If they can store that power for later use, then they can get paid for the power. And some state regulators are willing to pay for so-called frequency regulation services, where a power producer stores and releases electricity to help keep the grid balanced as demand and supply fluctuates.

GE declined to say how much the brilliant turbine costs compared to a conventional windmill. But the technology may prove attractive to wind farm operators as states like California begin to require utilities to provide energy storage when building new power plants.

Longtin said GE also has its sights on the European market, where a number of countries are considering legislation to require power producers to provide predictable electricity generation.

On its own website, GE says the 2.5-120 turbine is first to utilise the “Industrial Internet” to help manage the variability of wind providing smooth predictable power to the world.  It says the integration of  energy storage, drives higher wind farm output, improves services productivity and creates new revenue streams for customers. It estimates that it captures a 25 per cent increase in efficiency and 15 per cent  increase in power for low wind speed sites  

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  • Marka

    i wonder if this can be retrofitted to existing turbines

    • Sean

      as it is basically a battery pack… yes it could be tucked next to any power source
      i think GE may have figured out how to place it into the tower

      • Graham Tea

        It doesn’t make sense to retrofit it to existing turbines. It would be cheaper and easier to have a centralised battery storage system for the whole wind farm.

  • Is there any particular efficiency gain in tying storage to individual wind generators over say having one storage facility service an entire wind farm? One the one hand you have the possibility of similtaneous charging one battery at one generator while discharging another battery at another generator. One the other hand, you could have a central storage facility that charges or discharges bases on aggregate net demand which would economize the storage resource. Perhaps the decentralized approach is more efficient by avoiding having to convert AC to DC for charging.

    • Sean

      >Is there any particular efficiency gain in tying storage to individual wind generators over say having one storage facility service an entire wind farm?
      No.
      It is likely that the whole operation will be organised from the one location and treated as one plant. therefore it would make no difference to the storage if it were in on place or the other. The charge discharge cycle would be guided by the spot price of power thus even generators unconnected to the system will generally follow the same trends (Yay! markets!)
      GE may be packaging it up as one miracle cure to make it easier to sell but it is basically 2 components, the turbine (which will continue to produce as it always did)
      and for want of a better word a gigantic UPS system.

      The smart thing is the UPS will charge the batteries according to excess supply (up to the limit of the batteries) and discharge when it can make a profit (to the limit of batteries)
      In this way there will be less conversion (power that was getting sold to the grid in high demand from the turbine goes straight out) and with some electronics can control the speed of charge/supply

      the battery system being an inverter (as opposed to mechanical generator) it is much better placed to provide dynamic power phase corrections performing a vital grid stability service.

  • Geopap8

    Common sense about the limitations of wind turbines is finally prevailing – those Landscape Guardians were correct all along weren’t they?