In an ideal world, we would capture the right amount of energy from the wind. Then we could maintain storage batteries and grid delivery at optimum levels. Well we did say ‘ideal world’ didn’t we. Reality is different. Wind ebbs and flows regardless of whether grid demand rises or falls at the time. Fortunately, we have pitch control to bring the two closer together.
How Pitch Control Smooths Things Out
Pitch control adjusts turbine blades to harvest the fraction of wind power the situation demands at that moment. This enables operators to optimize power output, without causing blades to exceed maximum recommended rotational speeds.
Remember, the individual blades can be up to 65 meters long, so this can be quite an engineering challenge getting up there. According to North American Clean Energy, pitch control component failure causes 23% of downtime. Hence, it is important to install quality equipment that lasts, to continue harvesting as much power blowing in the wind as we can.
Electric motors, typically running on long-life lead acid batteries are responsible for turbine pitch rotation under control of computers. Overall reliability is essential, since wind turbines may be some distance from the nearest maintenance depot.
Engineers have to climb 250 to 525-foot-high ladders, or abseil from helicopters if a turbine does not have a lift or winch for access. Hence, when turbine pitch control fails, they hope for a compact component they can carry over their shoulder. And a small set of lightweight tools in their satchels. Utracapacitors are beginning to replace batteries and chargers, because they are simpler to work with in high tight spaces.
A Short History of Wind Turbine Electricity
Scottish professor James Blythe built the first wind turbine in 1887. He wanted t0 continue reading his books in the evening at his remote holiday home. A variety of permutations followed until the Russians finally built a 100kW generator for a holiday resort at Yalta. That was huge at the time.
Fast forward to 2018, and we are doing amazing things harvesting energy from wind. There would however be little purpose for this, without grid energy storage and pitch control to smooth delivery out. We will write more about the history of wind power later.
Preview Image: Wind Turbines in Austria