One of the disadvantages of wind power is its intermittent. However, technology is being able to change this scenario. In Colorado, United States, the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) created a “wind power forecasts of unprecedented accuracy” (Bullis, 2014, p. 44). This helps to decrease of cost and use of backup plant.
NCAR forecast system uses data of each turbine from different wind farmers in Colorado as well as weather satellites and weather stations. They combine these data in high resolution model that uses historical data to evaluate which forecast is good for each wind farmer.
When it tries to put wind power into the grid, there is a problem. Because wind power relies on wind, which is controlled by nature, it is hard to predict if after, for instance, 30 minutes you will still have wind enough to keep creation of energy in the same level. Therefore, along with wind power plant, there is a backup plant which function is to generate energy to offset wind power. Backup plants usually burn fossil fuels and are expensive.
The big advantage of NCAR’s forecast is that it provides an accurate prediction, so it is possible to know decrement of wind along a day. This confidence allow to go down the use of backup plant reducing costs of wind power.
The next step of NCAR is coming up with a solar power forecast. It will enable to generate solar energy safety. Likewise wind power, solar power is intermittent. However, if we combine wind and solar power is possible to offset the weakness of them. Imagine a storm coming, sky gets cloudy; consequently, solar panel stops to produce energy. In contrast, strong winds begin to increase. Thus, solar power is supplied by wind power. Thinking the same way, we can use solar power as a backup plant.
In conclusion, combination of wind and solar power can be a great alternative to fossil fuels.
Bullis, K. (2014). Smart wind and solar power. MIT TECHNOLOGY REVIEW, 117(3), pp. 44-47.