As positive as renewable energy is, it is not completely foolproof, yet. If your country happens to run entirely on tidal, wind, and solar power (you wish!) but the waves, wind, and sun are not working adequately for you for a time, what happens? On the other hand, what happens if your renewable sources happen to be producing far more energy than necessary? These imbalances are bound to happen, so some new “smart grid” technology is in testing stages on some North Atlantic islands, with the aim of smoothly balancing clean power grids.
The Faroe Islands will soon be integrating a new “virtual power station” by Denmark’s Dong Energy, which will use advanced Power Hub technology to shift supply and demand across the islands in seconds. The islands form an archipelago located between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. The average wind speeds for this area are about 10 meters per second. These high, reliable winds provide cheap wind energy and work twice as well as turbines do onshore in Denmark.
The testing will be done by shutting off one engine at the Sound Diesel Power Plant, creating a temporary 10% loss of power. This will reduce grid frequency, possibly causing a blackout. This is a semi-regular occurrence for the islands, but with the new technology, power should kick back in within seconds.
Power Hub is backed by the EU’s Twenties research and demonstration project, which aims to develop new ways of integrating large volumes of clean energy into grids by 2020. If some EU countries eventually get themselves into the enviable position where excess clean power can be sold to other nations, this could become a pretty lucrative way to distribute renewable energy.
Image from Wikimedia Commons: View over Klaksvík, Faroe Islands, Denmark.