Girding the Grid: Engineers rethink power storage for wind

By Lee Anna Sherman

As wind turbines and solar arrays sprout up across the landscape, an urgent challenge arises: How to capture all that alternative energy for the electrical grid. Wind velocity and solar intensity vary wildly as weather changes and as seasons shift — fluctuations that are often out of sync with power demand.

With $399,973 in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, OSU engineer Ted Brekken is tackling the problem by investigating scaled-up energy storage systems to even out the variability of wind energy generation. Such systems — which he likens to giant batteries — would “buffer the peaks and valleys in wind farm production,” he says. Wind energy thus would become “more predictable, more forecastable.

Learn more about OSU’s ARRA-funded research in human health, climate change, the oceans and education here.