To get a glimpse of the future of energy generation, take a trip along the coast of China, or travel the country's interiors. Increasingly, the landscape is dotted with wind turbines, which capture and store energy straight from the elements. The rise of wind-generated energy in China and throughout the world comes as the industry solves one of the thorniest problems in environmentally based energy generation: storage. In order to create consistent, reliable stores of energy, wind turbines have relied on battery-driven systems, which have created other challenges. Today, the use of ultracapacitors is solving the problems that have plagued wind power and setting the stage for continued, rapid growth in the market.
The Wind Turbine and the Problem of Consistency
Wind turbines employ three rotor blades that feed into generators to create electricity. The pitch of these blades can be adjusted on the fly to respond to current conditions and to optimize power output. That variability creates opportunity for wind turbines to maximize the elements to create clean energy, but this changeability also creates waste, since the energy storage systems frequently used are sized to meet the highest possible power demands, even if those rates only occur briefly and sporadically.
When wind turbines employ batteries to store energy for emergency power supply, several issues emerge:
China's growing use of wind power signals a shift that will become evident across Asia and throughout the world. With some of the most difficult questions of energy storage and reliable power delivery solved by the advent of ultracapacitors, wind power is poised for significant global growth. While windmill installations worldwide were stagnant during the past two years, that is about to change. Estimates for new installed capacity between the periods of 2010 and 2015 suggest a rebound in growth with new cumulative installations of 236 GW. Assuming an average turbine size of 2 MW translates to 118,000 newly installed turbines through 2015.
The demand for ultracapacitors is growing in parallel with the call for more wind turbines. These components are enabling wind generation with the long-lasting, cost-effective and reliable energy storage solutions for which the market has been waiting.