Some popular sources of renewable energy, including wind, wave, and solar energy sources are notoriously variable in their output and generation. This variability is characterized by short duration and high amplitude, and carries with it high intrinsic costs.
Stability, and more importantly, predictability in energy flow, is important in all applications. Instability in renewable sources invariably results in poor efficiency at many levels. This drives large hard-dollar expenses and a multitude of soft costs such as unreliability and inefficient architecture impacts.
Fortunately, ultracapacitors provide a ready solution to address this variability. The needs of these renewable resources perfectly align with the capabilities of ultracapacitors. By now, most engineers are starting to appreciate the strengths of the ultracapacitor: high-rate charge and discharge capability with a long lifetime. Energy smoothing, firming and stabilizing are all terms that open a discussion about ultracapacitors during the system design phase of a particular project. It is the unrivaled power delivery capability of ultracapacitors that make them an unparalleled solution for smoothing, firming, and stabilizing applications.
Therefore, it is incumbent for the systems engineer to design ultracapacitors into the system to address these stressful variable conditions. Those with the foresight to make this design decision will be rewarded with a system that operates successfully for the life of the application with trouble-free service functioning at a high level of performance. Conversely, those who elect to address the problem of variability with an ill-fitting solution will ultimately suffer the effects of high maintenance costs, repetitive replacement costs, and ever-present operational inefficiencies.
With ultracapacitors in the renewable energy value chain, renewable resources can increase and improve the quality of outputs, experience lower overall project costs, and optimize performance. So, why don't ultracapacitors show up in every renewable energy storage system? Don't worry — they will.
Have you seen any renewable energy projects that could've benefitted from ultracapacitor technology? Tell us in the comments.