Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Wind energy company opening office in Idaho Falls

WindSim, a Norwegian company that has been conducting wind energy research with Idaho National Laboratory, announced this week it will be opening an office in Idaho Falls. The company plans to continue the commercialization of its Power Line-Optimization Solution.

Putting too much electricity on the power grid can cause transmission lines to overheat and sag. Because of that, power has been traditionally managed using conservative static line ratings. But wind power and other renewables, combined with changing consumption patterns and smart grid management, have opened up new possibilities to operators.

Around 2010, INL researchers studying wind power plants noticed that transmission lines being cooled by the wind seemed able to handle more load. Using a commercial computational fluid dynamics (CFD) program, the team blended data from commercially available weather monitors and electric utility load data with CFD-enhanced weather analysis algorithms.

Taking wind and weather conditions into account, along with solid computer modeling and control approaches, dynamic line rating (DLR) has shown potential to unlock latent network transmission capacity – a welcome development, as it typically takes five to 10 years to bring new transmission from the planning stage to construction and operation, costing millions of dollars of investment per mile.

To use DLR effectively, however, engineers need accurate real-time information about wind conditions and factors such as the line’s temperature and amount of current it’s carrying. That information then has to be conveyed to utility operators in a way that enables them to quickly and safely adjust generation to meet load demands while operating within transmission safety limits.

Idaho Power has been working on DLR solutions with INL for close to ten years, and the utility now has roughly 450 miles of transmission line in two test beds set up to provide real-time weather information. INL discovered WindSim's CFD software around 2015, integrating it with INL-developed software called General Line Ampacity State Solver (GLASS), a finalist this year for the annual R&D 100 Awards.

In early 2016 the project was included as part of a $220 million Grid Modernization announced by DOE. Last year, DOE announced it would be receiving $300,000 in Technology Commercialization Funding. WindSim is also the recipient of a DLR project grant from Innovation Norway for implementation of the project in 2018-19.


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