On blustery days, too much wind power risks overloading the system, and the grid operator must respond by paying some firms not to generate. This “curtailment” costs consumers hundreds of millions of pounds each year…
In effect, they said, the grid has paid some wind farms not to generate power that they wouldn’t have produced anyway.
Battery farms are a very expensive solution to this problem. That’s because the batteries have to be a few times larger than the total daily capacity of excess energy produced. That’s because very windy days tend to happen a few in a row in most places. Furthermore, you still need a way to actually use that stored energy rather quickly because in a few days it’ll be very windy again.
There is a better solution to this problem. Instead of battery farms, have batteries that move around. And charge then right at the times when the wind is strong and you have all that excess energy. Yes, batteries that move around are called EVs. When there is excess energy, you charge a very small rate per kWh which will induce more and more people to charge their cars at that time instead of overnight when it is more convenient but also more expensive. Looking at solar, for example, that also has peaks causing excess energy (and curtailment), if they charge me 2 or 3 cents per kWh, I would very likely charge at that time instead of at night for 15 cents per kWh. Now put those chargers where people park during the day, in the parking lot at their office or other workplace, and it’ll be trivially easy to find places for that excess energy to be stored. Heck, can even make it free, and then you’re guaranteed to find takers during the free periods (to use up the excess energy that would otherwise be curtailed).
But that’s not a good explanation. If you never want to curtail wind, then yes, you’d need a lot of battery capacity. But if you just want to cut curtailment in half, for example, you don’t need enough battery to handle the very windiest periods. When the batteries are full and the grid is taking all it can, then you resort to curtailment. The batteries help deliver a more consistent power level from the winds.
And to be clear, I’m talking “battery” in the broadest sense here, not just chemical batteries. Salt storage, gravity storage, and other similar kinds of storage would work as well.
I have my doubts that this could work on a large enough scale to matter. Not that a utility shouldn’t provide the nudge to charge EVs when there is an excess of solar/wind. But I’ve been charging at work for over 10 years. Each person doesn’t get their own chargers to stay plugged in all day. People rotate in and out of the chargers – some people actually need to charge to get home. Although most are just getting a free company benefit. If I were to get a half price per kwh alert on a sunny day I’m not going to run out and see if I can find an open charger to plug in.
If I was at home I might be inclined to stay plugged in but set the charge limit low and then go on my phone to change it. And maybe there would be a setting in the car to automatically get these alerts
I agree most people wouldn’t run out. Regardless of price. But the car can do it on its own. Plug it in in the morning, but it doesn’t charge until the prices are low (or obviously if it’s desperate for some charge). I think most EVs can already do that today … charge while the electric tariff is low.
One solution being developed is Wind to Hydrogen, where wind energy is directly converted hydrogen. Pilot projects at offshore wind farms are already in progress Europe. It has been calculated that for wind farms >100km from shore, it is cheaper to pipe/transport a hydrogen product than to transmit electricity. The rise of offshore hydrogen production at scale
For distant offshore wind farms, floating electrolyzser platforms are attached to the turbines The hydrogen can be converted to ammonia or methanol and piped or transported to shore. The technology is at the demonstration stage and appears nearly ready for mass deployment.
Last month a French hydrogen producer towed the world’s first floating hydrogen production platform to a test site 20 kilometers off the Brittany coast. Nantes-based Lhyfe began operating the 1-megawatt platform in the Port of Nantes Saint-Nazaire last year using shore power, producing 400 kilograms of renewable or green hydrogen per day. They are now poised to plug into a 2-MW floating wind turbine at France’s SEM-REV offshore energy test site.
That’s what I was saying…it might work at home where you can plug in and charge or not charge or remotely start a charge, but NOT at work where most people would be during the day when it is most likely to have excess solar.
I don’t know…are there are cars that can plug in and not charge until the utility changes the price?
A good feature might be to only charge before some time if the price is low, else start charging at some specified time…or get to my charging setpoint by some specified departure time.