Although wind presently produces 5% of the world’s electricity, many scientists and engineers project that by 2050, wind turbines will generate at least half of all power. However, major progress in understanding the atmosphere at greater altitudes, anticipating weather patterns, and re-engineering turbines to work at higher levels of efficiency must first be made.
The overarching goal of all the redesigns and improvements is to create larger and more powerful wind turbines that produce more energy for less money, cutting the cost per unit of electricity. The average turbine size in 2019 exceeded 2,750 KW, according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC). Over the last decade, the average size of the population has increased by 72 percent.
1.Improvements to wind turbines
Wind turbine design in the past has mostly concentrated on improved blade designs, lighter-weight, flexible, yet durable materials, and the integration of intelligent control and monitoring systems. However, others in the industry argue that technology developments have reached a stage where they are only incremental at best.
Increasing the size of the towers, blades, and other components alone will not solve the problem, as this will result in turbines that are both expensive and heavy. This has motivated a continuous search for better, lighter-weight materials that can take higher stresses without early failure, as well as streamlined designs that save money and weight.
2.Increasing the efficiency of power generation
Meeting global wind energy generation targets necessitates discovering new ways to squeeze a lot more electricity out of existing wind farms. Engineers have traditionally concentrated on individual turbine performance, but modern techniques are based on the performance of the wind farm as a whole.
Consider the fact that when wind turbines are positioned directly into the wind, they create the most power. When numerous turbines are positioned close together, however, wakes from upstream generators can interfere with the performance of downstream turbines. Turbine wakes have been found to impair the efficiency of downwind generators by more than 40%, according to research.
This discovery has led to the practice of pointing turbines slightly away from the oncoming wind (known as wake-steering) in order to prevent interference and improve the quantity and quality of power generated by the wind farm. This may also aid in the reduction of running costs.
3.Taking into account the effects of wind
Wind energy is arguably the most volatile of the numerous renewable options. The wind’s speed and direction might vary without warning. As a result, blades and rotor RPM must be able to respond to the changing wind speed. Otherwise, inefficiencies in operations and costs may occur.
Wind turbines were not designed to change directions or speeds quickly, and the task has become considerably more difficult as the size of the rotor blades has grown. Larger rotor blades necessitate blade/rotor designs that can react to non-homogeneous wind flow, such as gusts, turbulence patches, shear, and other factors. The longer the blade, the more difficult it is to determine the best operating position because inflow conditions can vary greatly.
The difficulty of maintaining the best operational point despite wind variability has led to the development of smart rotor technology. The following are some design options:
- Wind turbines with tip-rotors are a type of wind turbine.
- Using a multiple rotor system with a large number of standardized rotors to replace a huge single rotor.
4.Predictive maintenance extends the life of a product
Predictive and preventative maintenance techniques are now possible thanks to advances in sensors and analytics, which help to reduce unplanned outages. Because the main bearing, generator, and gearbox are the most expensive components of a wind turbine, condition monitoring systems for wind turbines formerly concentrated on detecting breakdowns in these areas. Fluid sensors, particle counters, and vibration sensors are just a few of the tools available today to help maintenance crews keep ahead of breakdowns. Gearbox failures are commonly caused by contaminated fluids and worn bearings as a result of vibration.
5.Increasing the cost-effectiveness of wind energy
With various sources of renewable energy showing potential, OEMs in the wind business are under pressure to reduce costs.
While alternate materials for cost savings are still being sought, the main focus is on streamlining the overall design and decreasing component complexity. Standardizing sizes is becoming more important as economies of scale and ease of installation in different nations become more important. Additional cost reductions can be gained by increasing wind turbine efficiency and lowering maintenance expenses.
6.overcoming challenges with energy storage
Because the greatest potential for wind energy occurs at night, when demand for electricity is often lower, energy storage remains a major concern. Although battery technology has progressed significantly, it still falls short of solving the challenge of long-term storage. It’s not only costly, but it’s also inconvenient.
- The amount of energy that lithium-ion batteries can store is restricted.
- Flow batteries have a lot of potential, but they can’t yet be used on a large scale.
All eyes are on converting extra energy into hydrogen as a preferred storage option right now in the business. Because of its high energy density, hydrogen is perfect for storing energy for lengthy periods of time. It’s easier to handle because it’s light. Hydrogen, on the other hand, is not without its difficulties.
While new technologies are being introduced to increase the cost and efficiency of wind energy in general, there are several basic, yet very effective, operational things that can be done to improve the performance of existing wind turbine designs and materials.