Boosting Wind Power from Memory

Thursday, March 29, 2012 @ 03:03 PM gHale


Depending on the weather, wind turbines can face slight breezes or gale-force gusts. That inconsistency makes generating the maximum power from the turbines a tricky control problem.

There may now, however, be a solution. And it comes through a collaboration of Chinese researchers and a novel solution in human-inspired learning models.

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Most turbines 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 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 said, concluding that “the human-memory-based method holds great promise for enhancing the efficiency of wind power conversion.”



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