Smart controls for wind and wave energy could provide all the world’s power

Smart energy control technology that integrates wind and wave power could provide all the world’s electricity needs, according to the University of Birmingham.

Scientists at the university propose integrating wind and wave energy generation to smooth out the system’s overall power output so it can be easily connected to national power grids.

The proposal for a shared power delivery system for wind and wave farms would do away with the need for expensive power converters and battery storage.

The potential from wind and wave energy integration is enormous. One million GW of wind energy is available from total land coverage of the earth and just 1% of this would meet global electricity demand. And global wave power potential alone could be up to 10,000 GW.

Two challenges

The proposal would overcome the two major challenges of wave energy generation – efficient conversion of irregular, slow, high-force motion into electrical power and making wave generator output power with acceptable quality to the utility network.

Professor Xiao-Ping Zhang, Director of Smart Grid, Birmingham Energy Institute at the University of Birmingham, outlined the proposal in his keynote speech on wind-wave energy system integration at the 2019 UNESCO International Water Conference, in Paris.

Professor Zhang said:

“Our proposed integration solution would deliver significant economic benefits – reducing the amount of technology needed by creating a shared power delivery system for wind and wave farms and leading to significant savings in investment in wave energy generation.”

Professor Zhang added that Birmingham’s wind-wave energy integration strategy could work alongside the Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organization’s (GEIDCO) initiative to promote the sustainable development of energy worldwide.

Coordinated research

The history of collaboration between China and the university dates back almost to the foundation of the university in 1901. The Birmingham Energy Institute harnesses expertise from the fundamental sciences and engineering through to business and economics to deliver co-ordinated research, education and the development of global partnerships.

Beijing-based GEIDCO is developing a Global Energy Interconnection (GEI) system to meet global demand for electricity in a clean and green way, as well as implementing the United Nations “Sustainable Energy for All” and climate change initiatives.

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