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Smart-grid Project Matches Wind Power with Electric Cars

Smart-grid technology is taking another step forward as IBM is joining with Danish research consortium EDISON and seeking to optimize wind turbine energy for use with electric cars.

The goal of the project will be to correspond wind turbine energy from the island of Bornholm, Denmark, with the power consumption of electric cars.

The goal of the project is two-fold: increase the number of electric cars in Denmark to 10 percent of the vehicles on the road while shifting an even greater emphasis to wind power in the country.

Denmark already receives 20 percent of its power from renewable energy sources like wind turbines.

IBM’s Global Energy and Utilities is currently involved in approximately 50 different projects like this that relate to smart-grid technology. Allan Schurr, vice president of strategy and development recently explained their emphasis on smart-grid tech saying that it can help utilities better integrate renewable energy sources and run the transmission grid more efficiently.

Smart-grid technologies are not required to make larger use of wind and solar power but they can make them less expensive,” Schurr said. “Getting a handle on power supply and demand in real time helps address the variable nature of wind and solar power,” he said.

He went on to explain that many forms of renewable energy, particularly wind power, cause problems for power grid operators since power supply is unpredictable. Smart-grid technology can help modulate the loads so that if the wind is blowing, cars should be charging.

The Danish Edison project will try to use simulations and historical data to predict how best to correspond wind turbines power output with the charging of electric car batteries. An example of how this might function would be for a drop in wind speeds to be matched with a slow down in how fast electric car batteries are charged.

Smart grid technology can help balance electricity supply from wind power or solar energy with demand. This would mean eliminating the need for fossil fuel backup generators that are typically used as stand-by power suppliers.

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Self Describing Network Promises Smarter Grid

The days of power being generated in centralized locations is coming to an end. The U.S. is coming off a record year in wind power. The UK has an aggressive plan for investing in renewable energy systems and Barack Obama is investing hundreds of billions of dollars to see solar power and wind energy maintain their momentum. It’s safe to say that a wide dispersion of power generation will continue with the proliferation of all these renewable energy forms.

This is creating some problems when it comes to managing power grids since the infrastructure was designed to pipe power from one spot outwards like a spider web.

But wind power and solar energy producing electricity across entire countries grid operators are having problems knowing what generators are connected, whether they are working or not and how much electricity they are generating. This hasn’t been too big a problem so far but with these industries growing like wild fire it likely will be in the near future.

As we reported earlier on our wind power sister site, Southwest Windpower has been lobbying the U.S. government to expand Wi-Fi Internet connections in rural areas so as to allow its wind turbines to communicate with a central operator.

Now FGH research in Germany has taken a look at this same problem and made a significant breakthrough in dealing with this issue.

“Grid management systems were designed around a large number of clients and a few suppliers, but now there are increasing numbers of suppliers. This requires a new level of communication and management system,” explains Bernhard Schowe-von der Brelie, a lead researcher at the FGH research institute.

Schowe-von der Brelie has made great  progress towards developing a solution, for managing distributed resources in an electricity grid while also providing a method of communication between autonomous systems across any network.

The German research has team developed a generic framework that will allow for ‘self-describing’ networks. These networks allow each component, whether it’s a simple wind turbine volt meter or a weather station’s thermometer, to autonomously send its information regarding its function, location and any relevant data.
The results of this “self describing” network is that smart power grids can be set up for a town or city more easily and cost-effectively.

Schowe-von der Brelie explains, “Instead of storing information in a centralized database, the S-TEN approach is for each node, each sensor or device connected to the network, to have its own intelligence.”

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