DOE to Fund Tennessee Tech Wind Power Research

Led by David Wenzhong Gao, assistant electrical and computing engineering professor whose research is based in Tennessee Tech University's Center for Energy Systems Research, the university will develop innovative storage systems and controls for high wind penetration.

A critical challenge of large-scale wind integration is variability and uncertainty of wind energy resources. In the lab, Gao and colleagues will model, simulate and analyze new ways to counteract wind fluctuation with energy storage and associated controls.

"Tennessee Tech is positioned to be a major player in the research, development and demonstration of wind power grid integration because of our experience with innovative energy storage technologies," said Gao.

Supported by the more than $265,000 funding for the two-year project, TTU researchers plan to create multi-level storage made up of plug-and-play energy storage modules at different levels of a wind power system — at the levels of balancing the control center, wind power plant and wind turbine generator.

The modular storage design will include such technologies as lithium ion batteries, ultra-capacitors and fuel cells. Researchers plan to model, simulate and analyze the storage systems in the lab, create a prototype and hold field verification at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and wind power plants.

One potential demonstration site, the Tennessee Valley Authority's Buffalo Mountain Wind Power Plant, is one of the nation's earliest wind farms.

"We have a strong power engineering education and research program and close collaborations with power and energy industries and institutions, including TVA, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory," said Gao. "Successful completion of this project will accelerate future wind power growth and help the Department of Energy overcome technical challenges associated with the '20 Percent Wind by 2030' goal," said Gao.

After announcing nearly $14 million in new wind energy project funding, the DOE said a new study shows the United States leads the world in annual wind energy growth capacity, as well as cumulative wind energy capacity.

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