Winds of change blowing for alternative energy production
The wind turbine market is becoming one of the most exciting venues for ultracapacitor usage today.
As companies around the world work to harness the elements and create consistent, reliable stores of energy, their largest hurdle has been energy storage.
In fact, as the demand for these solutions increases, we recently won our first large orders in China.
Battery-driven systems alone cannot clear that hurdle, but ultracaps are creating efficiencies in blade pitch control, maintenance and safety that could spur significant growth in an industry that has been stagnant for several years.
Pitch adjustments to a wind turbine’s three rotor blades maximize meteorological conditions, but those changes create waste when the energy storage system is sized to meet the highest possible power demands, even if those rates only occur briefly and sporadically.
This is the problem with battery-backed storage, which also struggles in extreme conditions and at moments of high peak power.
Ultracapacitors solve a lot of the issues batteries create:
- Ultracapacitors have higher functionality, with porous electrodes that enable significant charge accumulation and high energy release rates.
- Ultracapacitors have a longer lifespan, completing millions of charge and discharge cycles with limited degradation. While the replacement period for batteries is between two and four years, the expectation for ultracapacitor lifespan is more than 10 years. This contributes to a safety and maintenance issue, since wind turbine installations can be difficult to reach and service, especially under threatening weather conditions.
- Ultracapacitors have a far wider temperature tolerance, operating optimally at -40C to 65C.
- Ultracapacitors dwarf the cycling capability of batteries, delivering more than a million cycles to a battery’s 10,000 to 50,000.
- The price of ultracapacitors has fallen 99 percent in the past decade, whereas batteries have dropped only 30 to 40 percent.
In general, the use of an ultracapacitor in combination with a battery is an excellent way to increase the overall power density of the power source and decrease the strain on the battery. Analysts expect the number of wind turbine installations to grow over the next few years.
The use of ultracapacitors in blade pitch control
– already in service in more than 14,000 turbine installations
— will certainly contribute to increased demand for this form of cleaner energy generation.