Greening-up energy production
Wind power or wind energy is a renewable resource generated from the natural kinetic energy of air movement. Simple uses of wind power date back to early human societies, where sails and later more sophisticated structures like windmills were used to assist people with tasks requiring power and to propel seafaring vessels. Today, the same energy is converted into electricity through wind turbines with rotor blades, creating carbon-free electricity essential to the green energy transition.
Wind energy basics – what are the advantages and disadvantages of wind power?
The advantages of wind power are manifold and easy to observe and understand. The kinetic energy of air movement generated through weather events, pressure systems and thermodynamics is powerful and available in abundance all over the world. Methods of harnessing it range from extremely simple to technologically refined, but all are highly efficient and require few physical resources and little to no land use. Last but not least, wind is a cost-effective and clean energy. Aside from relatively minor concerns relating to noise, aesthetic impact and potential effects of wind turbines on wildlife, the main disadvantages lie in the fluctuating nature of wind and the unreliability of the resulting electricity supply, as well as related transport and storage issues.
The challenges of wind power: fluctuation and distribution
Wind power is generally considered to be the cheapest renewable energy resource. However, it is not available on demand or consistently. Although the electricity generated by wind turbines is generally stable over longer time spans, it can vary seasonally and fluctuates over the course of a day, potentially going from peak production to doldrums and back again within an hour. The major challenges of the wind industry are the transport and storage of the energy generated by wind turbines. Due to the fact that wind turbines are mostly located in rural locations and increasingly in offshore wind farms, a grid expansion is necessary to transport electricity to end users. Even then, at peak times unused volumes go to waste unless storage solutions are found.
Renewable energy must be able to shift electricity from high production times to high demand times.
Coping with fluctuating energy
The increasing share of renewables, especially wind and solar power, means that power grids are experiencing ever larger fluctuations. But industries need an affordable, secure and stable supply all-around the clock and wherever they are located. Additionally, individuals expect inexpensive electricity delivered to their homes without fail. How can we guarantee a secure supply while integrating a rising share of renewables?
Storing wind power
As the world moves toward a decarbonized future, energy storage will become as central to energy systems as generation, transmission and distribution are today. What’s also clear is that we’re unlikely to find a single energy storage technology that will both deliver value to multiple stakeholder groups and meet the great diversity of use cases – ranging from utilities and transmission network operators, to industrial and commercial users, off-grid communities and end consumers.
Combining wind power with smart backup-systems
The Faroe Islands are aiming for complete sustainable energy supply by creating a smart and innovative micro-grid. Local energy provider, Elfelagið SEV, has found a way to harness the natural resources of the islands and ensure a constant electricity supply.