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The power of multiples: Connecting wind farms can make a more reliable - and cheaper - power source
Date:11/21/2007

her on or off. With two hamsters, the odds are better that one will be on a treadmill at any given point in time and your chances of running, say, your blender, go up. Get enough hamsters together and the odds are pretty good that at least a few will always be on the treadmill, cranking out the kilowatts.

The combined output of all the hamsters will vary, depending on how many are on treadmills at any one time, but there will be a certain level of power that is always being generated, even as different hamsters hop on or off their individual treadmills. Thats the reliable baseload power.

The connected wind farms would operate the same way.

The idea is that, while wind speed could be calm at a given location, it could be gusty at others. By linking these locations together we can smooth out the differences and substantially improve the overall performance, Archer said.

As one might expect, not all locations make sense for wind farms. Only locations with strong winds are economically competitive. In their study, Archer and Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford, evaluated 19 sites in the Midwestern United States, with annual average wind speeds greater than 6.9 meters per second at a height of 80 meters above ground, the hub height of modern wind turbines. Modern turbines are 80-100 meters high, approximately the height of a 30-story building, and their blades are 70 meters long or more.

The researchers used hourly wind data, collected and quality-controlled by the National Weather Service, for the entire year of 2000 from the 19 sites in the Midwestern United States. They found that an average of 33 percent and a maximum of 47 percent of yearly-averaged wind power from interconnected farms can be used as reliable, baseload electric power. These percentages would hold true for any array of 10 or more wind farms, provided it met the minimum wind speed and turbine height criteria used
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Contact: Stephanie Kenitzer
kenitzer@ametsoc.org
425-432-2192
American Meteorological Society
Source:Eurekalert

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