New smart energy tech could harness wind and wave power

Using smart energy control technology to combine wind and wave power could provide all the world’s electricity needs according to research from the University of Birmingham.

Scientists at the University propose integrating wind and wave energy generation so that the system’s overall power output becomes very smooth and can be easily connected to national power grids.

The proposal would do away with the need for expensive power converters and battery storage, overcoming the two major challenges of wave energy generation - efficiently converting irregular, slow, high-force motion into electrical power and making wave generator output power with acceptable quality to the utility network.

Professor Xiao-Ping Zhang, Director of Smart Grid, Birmingham Energy Institute at the University of Birmingham, outlined the proposal in his keynote speech on wind-wave energy system integration at the recent 2019 UNESCO International Water Conference, in Paris.

Professor Zhang commented: “There is great potential to integrate wind and wave energy Generation. With one million GW of wind energy available from total land coverage of the earth, just one per cent of this would meet global electricity demand – not forgetting that global wave power potential alone could be up to 10,000 GW.

“Our proposed integration solution would deliver significant economic benefits - reducing the amount of technology needed by creating a shared power delivery system for wind and wave farms and leading to significant savings in investment in wave energy generation.”

Prof Zhang added that Birmingham’s wind-wave energy integration strategy could work alongside the Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organization’s (GEIDCO) initiative to promote the sustainable development of energy worldwide.

The Beijing-based organisation is developing a Global Energy Interconnection (GEI) system that will meet the global demand for electricity in a clean and green way, as well as implementing the United Nations “Sustainable Energy for All” and climate change initiatives.

Professor Zhang outlined Birmingham’s plans at the conference which drew government ministers from 40 countries and more than 1,000 experts and scientists from 126 countries, to discuss innovative solutions to problems related to the governance and management of water.

Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General, noted: "Access to water is not only a matter of development. Above all, it is a fundamental right and an instrument of peace and security in the world. It is our collective responsibility to put in place a responsible management of this common good. This is the very spirit of the Conference: to change our way of thinking and adopt a holistic approach for the sustainable management of this universal resource.”

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