Bavarian Town, Regional Utility Learn to Stabilize the Renewable Grid
Regional utility AÜW and Siemens are working with the small Bavarian town of Wildpoldsried, population 2,600, to learn how to stabilize a power grid that integrates large volumes of renewable energy.
The good news and the challenging news for Wildpoldsried is that its renewable energy systems produce 500% more renewable energy than the community needs, the Rocky Mountain Institute reports. The town set out in 1997 to derive 100% of its energy requirements from renewables by 2020, but “things happened much faster than planned—17 years later, the town now has five biogas plants, almost 5 MW of solar PV, 11 wind turbines with a total capacity of more than 12 MW, a biomass district heating network, three small hydro power plants, and 2,100 square meters of solar thermal systems.”
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The wind turbines operate on a 10-year payback and generate 80% of the earnings of the dairy farms where they’re located.
“While all this excess renewable energy is bringing in over $7 million a year in revenue, it was also causing a headache for AÜW, which has to maintain grid stability,” Guevara-Stone notes. The solution was to install a network of devices to measure current, voltage, and frequency, helping the utility balance supply and demand.