Wind and Solar Power: Complementary Energy Resources

Here at Solar Power International, a number of attendees have openly wondered: how can wind power and solar power work better, together? Perhaps unsurprisingly, the two resources pair together quite nicely, naturally.

With nearly 3.5 gigawatts of wind power purchase agreements, and over 5 GW of installed solar power, the South has begun to embrace renewable energy. Pairing utility scale wind and solar power in the South could improve renewable energy market share as well as relieve potential integration issues. For example, as higher levels of solar power penetration occur, several utilities have noted a trend moving towards higher winter peak generation demand.

Climate Signals and Hurricane Irma

Climate change is amplifying the damage done by hurricanes, by elevating sea levels and extending the reach of storm surge and by fueling storms with greater rainfall. Climate change may also be driving the observed trend of increasing hurricane intensity as well as the observed trend of more rapidly intensifying hurricanes. In addition there is significant evidence linking climate change to the observed shift in the track of hurricanes such as Irma toward the US coast.

Hurricane Irma Leads to Solar Questions

Will Solar Panels Work During a Hurricane? Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for all of Florida, grocery stores are already running out of food and water, and some residents have already started to evacuate, just in case. But for those staying put, planning to weather the storm, another question has risen – If we lose power, will solar panels still work?

Texas Wind Farms Survive Hurricane Harvey

Simply put, many wind farms in coastal Texas weren’t affected by Harvey’s highest-level winds. And the turbines that did experience those extreme conditions, performed as expected and shut down for self-preservation, or when the local grid system failed.

How Will Hurricane Harvey Affect Texas Wind Farms?

To date, no wind farm in the United States has been destroyed by a hurricane. Neither Hurricane Iselle (Hawaii, 2014), Hurricane Sandy (New Jersey, 2012), nor Hurricane Irene (Delaware, 2011) harmed wind farms. Wind farms in hurricane-prone coastal zones are frequently designed to withstand hurricane-force winds, up to level Category 3 hurricanes. For self preservation purposes, wind turbines automatically shut down when wind speeds reach excessive levels. Hurricane Harvey is slated to become a Category 3 storm, and may test the limits of turbine engineering.