Wind Turbines to Improve Efficiency by Acting More Like Humans?

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Wind turbines may get a bit of an efficiency boost (eventually) by mimicking human memory systems, thanks to the thinking and work of some Chinese researchers.

As you well know, the wind changes frequently, and wind turbines have to adjust as it changes in order to maximize their efficiency. They can only do that as well as their control systems allow them to. Some Chinese researchers think they have found a ‘simple’ way to improve those control systems by making them act more like humans and memorize previous changes.

Here’s more information from the American Institute of Physics, via Science Daily:

Most turbines are designed to produce maximum allowable power once winds reach a certain speed, called the rated speed. In winds above or below the rated speed, control systems can make changes to the turbine system, such as modifying the angle of the blades or the electromagnetic torque of the generator.

These changes help keep the power efficiency high in low winds and protect the turbine from damage in high winds. Many control systems rely on complex and computationally expensive models of the turbine’s behavior, but the Chinese group decided to experiment with a different approach.

The researchers developed a biologically inspired control system, described in the American Institute of Physics’ Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, that used memory of past control experiences and their outcomes to generate new actions. In simulations, the controller showed initially poor results, but quickly learned how to improve, matching the performance of a more traditional control system overall. The memory-based system is attractive because of its simplicity, the researchers write, concluding that “the human-memory-based method holds great promise for enhancing the efficiency of wind power conversion.”

So, apparently, this new method hasn’t resulted in better wind turbine efficiencies yet, but it’s expected to in the future. Yet another technological advancement likely to bring down wind power’s already low costs.

Source: Science Daily
Image: wind turbines courtesy shutterstock.


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Zachary Shahan

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