Fluctuations in wind

Ironing out fluctuati​ons in wind power

Wind fluctuations are one of the main disadvantages of wind. However Australia is lucky to be so large. Wind in one location can even out zero wind in another. 

There are transmission lines all along the east coast from Cape York down to Tasmania.

A high voltage DC power line across the south, Perth to 
Sydney, would cost only about $2 billion and only lose 10% through transmission losses. It would allow the wind fluctuations to be ironed out. A gust of wind traveling from west to east would encounter wind turbines all the way generating power constantly.

The line would also attract private ventures generating solar, geothermal, and wave power. The Nullarbor plain is an excellent place for pumped hydro to store and release electricity. This could be used to iron out fluctuations and for load balancing.

The CSIRO has produced an excellent "Planners Guide" to wind energy.

The Nullarbor plain. An excellent place for wind, wave, and pumped hydro. Underground caverns may be suited to compressed air energy storage to iron out fluctuations.



Modern wind turbines have a down time of less than 2 percent on land and less than 5 percent at sea. Photovoltaic systems are also at less than 2 percent.

The average U.S. coal plant is offline 12.5 percent of the year for scheduled and unscheduled maintenance. Moreover, when an individual wind, solar or wave device is down, only a small fraction of production is affected; when a coal, nuclear or natural gas plant goes offline, a large chunk of generation is lost.


Is there less wind on hot days?

This is a table showing the wind power generated on hot days in South Australia. On this very limited sample, there appears to be no particular pattern. Source

 The head of energy strategy for the UK National Grid, who said that over an 18 month period, the expected emissions benefit of using wind power – that is the amount of carbon dioxide saved by using wind to produce power – was reduced by just 0.1 per cent as a result of the need to use fossil fuel power stations as backup. He argued that

“wind is more predictable in some senses than conventional power sources like coal or gas. A traditional power station like a nuclear plant could “trip and fall off in a matter of milliseconds”, he says. Wind turbines may have to be shut off to protect them in high wind conditions, but these are easier to predict than a nuclear power station suddenly cutting out.”



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