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Renewable Resources Generation

Wind FarmIn combination with renewable resources, energy storage can increase the value of photovoltaic (PV) and wind-generated electricity, making supply coincident with periods of peak consumer demand.

Wind turbines and solar arrays are being developed at a rapid rate, but they are inherently variable generators of energy and are thus classified as un-dispatchable resources. This greatly reduces the market price of generated electricity. By integrating the operation of the Zinc Flow with that of the renewable resource, a stable and predictable output can be generated, allowing for higher-value, firm contract sales as well as energy pricing arbitrage opportunities.

Renewable generation developers are always looking for ways to sell their power into the grid more cost effectively, and to find ways to generate more power from their renewable resource. Since the effective cost of energy produced from a wind or solar farm is dominated by capital asset costs rather than by operating costs, anything that improves the effective use of their asset will provide a greater return. By decoupling the production and delivery of energy from renewable resources, Zinc-Flow can make the generated energy more valuable, and provide a means for the combined facility to sell greater amounts of power into the grid. Premium Power Corporation has done extensive modeling of the economics of adding its Zinc-Flow units to existing wind and solar farms and its studies indicate that a developer is significantly better off by spending incremental capital dollars on adding Zinc-Flow units, rather than purely adding additional wind or solar generation assets.

Firming the delivery of power is a key means for wind and solar farm owners to increase the value of renewable energy by selling power in higher value blocks instead of simply spot sales. By storing the renewable energy during off-peak periods or when there is excess wind or solar energy available, this energy could then be delivered later to supplement existing wind generation during on-peak periods to ensure a minimum (for contractual delivery) but hopefully a maximum (for greater profit) energy sales. Instead of cycling all of the output from the generator through the storage facility, the capacity firming strategy is used to only support a full-time minimum output from the wind or solar farm. By absorbing and discharging energy to provide a stable output, the wind or solar farm owner can improve the delivery and price of the wind power as it becomes a more reliable grid resource.

Solar ArrayBesides increasing the value of the renewable energy generated, a wind tower or solar array can also benefit from the use of Zinc-Flow to increase the effective output of the facility. Generally, most people think that the best way to produce more power from a wind tower is to increase the efficiency of a wind turbine, but there are also innovative ways to generate additional energy sales from a wind tower. By purchasing and storing low-cost, off-peak energy from the grid at night and selling it back to the grid during peak demand periods (arbitrage) when its value is highest, the Zinc-Flow unit leverages the unused electrical equipment of the wind tower to make additional and profitable energy sales. By utilizing the otherwise unused Zinc-Flow and electrical equipment, this marginal benefit adds to the overall economics of operating the combined system.

Lowering the cost of integrating the wind or solar power into the grid is another way Zinc- Flow units can be of value to a wind tower. This can be crucial as recent estimates put the cost of integrating wind or solar energy into the grid at 5% to 30% of the cost of generation. These costs are generated from additional transmission ancillary service support the system operator has to account for because of the unreliability of renewable power. Zinc-Flow units can provide additional flexibility to mitigate these issues by promoting system stability to promote further wind penetration of the market. Zinc-Flow can be used to reduce additional ancillary service requirements, both providing local transmission system stability benefits and improving the total economics of the wind or solar farm. Although ancillary service costs vary widely due to accounting practices and the physical differences between the different Regional Transmission Organizations, all agree that as more wind or solar energy is put onto the grid, these costs increase and that these costs are increasingly being charged in some way to the wind or solar developer.

Finally, Zinc-Flow units can help the renewable generators with the basic ability to sell power into the market. During periods of high demand, wind or solar energy production is sometimes 'constrained-off" the grid because there is no more room on a transmission line. When this happens, the output of a wind or solar farm can be reduced-even to zero if the transmission line is full. At this time, Zinc-Flow systems can store excess energy and release it when there is more space available on the transmission system.

References:
Howatson, Al, and Churchill, Jason, International Experience with Implementing Wind Energy, The Conference Board of Canada, Ottawa, ON, February, 2006


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