Wind power is the fastest growing energy source in the world. It is clean, renewable, cost effective; but it is not a panacea. Wind is inherently an intermittent resource, with high degrees of variability across areas, regions, seasons and time of day.
Wind energy requires high average and consistent wind speeds, which are typically generated by the atmosphere’s interaction with unique topological features. This means wind energy can only be harnessed in specific locations, sometimes where there may be no grid connection or local demand.
Given the highly variable generation of wind energy, as well as land-use limitations, wind is restricted in its ability to solely meet base load energy demand.
Solar power is an abundant, cheap and sustainable energy source. It is environmentally friendly and can substantially reduce household energy costs.
But like wind, solar comes with its own set of limitations. As well as being expensive to store and requiring a significant amount of dedicated space to farm; solar energy is also an intermittent energy source.
In most locations full generation is limited to little more than five hours a day and predicting overcast days can be difficult; limiting solar’s ability to solely meet base load energy demand.
Wind or Solar?
With compelling pros and cons for each, the wind versus solar debate has gained significant momentum over the years. But as Roger Price, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Windlab points out, there need not be a battle.
Roger argues for the synergistic use of both power sources and believes that a future network which combines both technologies is the answer to solving Australia’s energy crisis.
“The difference in generation characteristics between wind and solar perfectly complement one another”, says Roger. “Without stating the obvious, sun has a very uniform generation pattern whereas wind is more distributed. Combining the two technologies builds a significant amount of backup generation and ultimately allows for greater penetration of renewables”.
Windlab is currently constructing Kennedy Energy Park, the world’s first true utility scale Wind, Solar and Storage Hybrid generating facility; and conducting research into how to optimize renewable energy generation sources to ensure reliable, cost effective future networks.
Roger Price will reveal details of this ongoing initiative at the Large Scale Solar Conference due to take place 27-28 June in Sydney.