A researcher examines Sandia’s new wind turbine motor, which will allow the distributed energy team to study how real wind farms will behave under a variety of conditions and in different locations.

New tool brings some West Texas wind to the Duke City — virtually

February 2, 2021 3:12 pm Published by

Sandia researchers have a new tool that allows them to study wind power, to see whether it can be efficiently used to provide power to people living in remote and rural places or even off the grid, through distributed energy.

A new, custom-built wind turbine emulator has been installed at Sandia’s Distributed Energy Technologies Laboratory. The emulator, which mimics actual wind turbines at Sandia’s Scaled Wind Farm Technology Site near Lubbock, Texas, will be used to study how real wind farms behave under multiple weather conditions and load demands, and if they can be efficiently used as a source of distributed energy for consumers who live near the farms, said Brian Naughton, a researcher with Sandia’s Wind Energy Technologies program.

Unlike traditional wind farms that feed energy to grid-connected transmission lines, wind turbines used for distributed energy are in close proximity or even directly connected to the end user or customer, Brian said. This is especially important for users who are in remote areas or who are off the main electrical grid.

Determining the viability of using wind turbines as a source of distributed energy is important due to the potential impact it could have on providing electricity to remote, islands communities that exist largely off the main electric grid, said Rachid Darbali-Zamora, a researcher with Sandia’s Renewable Energy and Distributed Systems Integration program.

 “We’re looking at finding solutions to challenges faced by parts of the country that cannot be consistently powered by a traditional electric grid, such as remote communities in Alaska or islands that have experienced crippling devastation due to hurricanes,” Rachid said. “Adding wind as a distributed energy source, we are potentially solving some big challenges that are faced regarding the utilization of microgrid technology.”

Learn more in Sandia’s Lab News story about the new wind turbine emulator.

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