Going Beyond Wind and Solar Farms

Recent years have seen tremendous focus on renewable energy in the US. Emphasis has been on wind and solar energy and a lot of attention seems to have been concentrated on the desert areas of Southern California. With millions of acres of sandy area, the Mojave and Colorado deserts offer an ideal opportunity for huge wind and solar farms.

Interestingly, the US government too has put its final stamp on a number of projects, many of them are being fast tracked, and California is now poised to become the solar energy capital of the world. But while a lot of attention is being laid on generating energy from renewable sources and much revenue is being funnelled towards it, is putting up solar and wind farms all it takes to reduce our dependence on fossil fuel, many would think not.

Is the energy infrastructure ready for renewable energy?

Renewable energy generation seems to be only part of the issue, also of importance is the distribution and transmission infrastructure like transformers. The US has one of the largest energy production, transmission and distribution machineries in the world. Unfortunately, much of it is aging. The aging energy transmission, distribution network and aging transformers are causing reasonable energy waste; the energy distribution system also needs to be upgraded to take on the additional task of dealing with variance in energy from fossil fuel to renewable.

Undoubtedly, renewable energy from solar and wind have the potential to power millions of homes across the United States. Though initially capital intensive, renewable energy has the propensity to pay for itself in a matter of years, reduce the country’s carbon footprint and dependence on foreign oil, however, before we begin tapping into the benefits of renewable energy we need to have infrastructure in place that stores, distributes and transmits energy efficiently.

Problems associated with renewable energy

One of the biggest drawbacks of renewable energy is its fluctuating supply. This problem can only be resolved by putting up storage units for renewable energy and storing it when it is being generated plentifully and used even when supply is low. Huge storage batteries seem to be the ideal solution.

The smart gird is yet another aspect of the infrastructure that needs to be responsive and ‘smart’ enough to address issues caused by fluctuating energy levels, track energy distribution and pre-empt energy disruption. The biggest issue however presents itself in the form of energy transformers. Energy transformers play a vital role at every step of the way, from collecting energy at solar and wind farms, to stepping it up for transmission and then stepping energy down at multiple levels for consumption.

Thousands of energy transformers in the United States are rapidly aging, they need to be replaced by energy efficient distribution transformers that are hardy and able to transmit energy generated by both fossil fuel and renewable sources.

Much like rectifier transformers, Wind Turbine Step-Up Transformers are designed for harmonics, additional loading, and have electrostatic shields to prevent transfer of harmonic frequencies between the primary and secondary windings.

So while the emphasis is currently on producing renewable energy, it’s time to seriously consider the capabilities of transformers to adapt to the changing energy needs.