May 8, 2021

Wind Power is only Energy, no guaranteed power even with batteries

Deroover, Marc

An electrical power network is all about power: at any moment, the network must deliver the power called upon by its customers. But wind turbines produce only variable power. Therefore the networks have to transform this variable power into a fixed guaranteed power in order to integrate it into their production plan.

This transformation requires backup generators, backdown generators, and, supposedly, various other exotic means like backup batteries or hydrogen storage. The costs of these tools are difficult to evaluate because they are hidden in the daily network’s operations. But we can have an idea of the type and magnitude of the problems encountered if we force the wind power plant to provide a fixed and guaranteed power and look at what has to be done to reach that goal.

The behavior of a wind power plant that has to provide a fixed and guaranteed power is illustrated in the following figure that shows, for each guaranteed power level, the average value of the various power flows in and out of the system.

The figure is drawn for a 1000 MW power plant, with a wind load factor of 28%, coupled with backup power generators and 4GWh batteries. The values are calculated for each guaranteed power value based on the day by day simulation of the system. The resulting daily values are then aggregated over the period to show the average power flows. Looking at the figure, one can see that:

If you understand how a wind power plant forced to produce a guaranteed power works, you will also understand that any time someone promises you that wind turbines will provide some “magic things” that are not shown in the previous figure, what they really mean is that they intend to use the resources of the network to let you think that wind power is, well, “magic”.

You can try to add batteries in the customer houses, or use some hydrogen storage. But, because these things need to be filled with some power before being useful, they will behave as the main batteries of our example – very inefficiently.

That wind turbines are some kind of magic engines that could violate the laws of thermodynamics is one of the great illusions of our time. Only by pumping for free the resources of the network can wind turbines pretend to provide useful services.

There comes a time when people will realize that the laws of physics apply even if they don’t know them …

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