Wind and solar power are clean and renewable energy sources, but they are fickle.
Wind turbine blades spin more on some days than others. Photovoltaic panel production drops when the sky is overcast. How can utilities rely on these green energy sources to fulfill customer demand when generation capacity fluctuates along with weather conditions?
The answer lies in a growing tool chest of electronics, infrastructure, energy storage, risk assessment tools, and computing technologies that make it possible to draw current from multiple generation sources, store it for later use, and route it to customers based on availability and need. This approach is called energy integration.Helping Intermittent Power Sources Work Together
Energy integration can benefit a utility scale power grid that serves thousands of homes and businesses, or a micro-grid that serves a single military base, university, or hospital. Smart grids – which are capable of gathering real-time feedback on electric supply and demand -- help reduce peak load and enable the integration of solar, wind, fuel cells, and other power sources.
As the demand for clean energy grows, so does the need for smart grids, distributed generation, and other advanced energy integration tools. Current research into energy integration explores these main areas:
- Reference designs
- Smart grids and micro-grids
- Energy storage