Wind power and storage power plants
In periods of calm wind, storage power plants – the "natural partners" of wind turbines – must be available to ensure uninterrupted power supply.
Storage power plants allow electrical energy to be stored (on an industrial scale). Due to their flexible nature, they can be used in situations where electricity needs to be quickly fed into the grid for domestic power supply, for instance if due to a lack of wind no power is being generated by the wind turbines. If necessary, the stored energy in the reservoirs is converted into electricity. In times of surplus of electrical energy, e.g. at night when run-of-river and wind power stations generate more electricity than is consumed, pumped storage power plants – a special form of storage power plants – are used: in this type of power plant, water is pumped back from storage tanks to the higher reservoir. If necessary, the accumulated water can then be used again to drive turbines and valuable peak current can be generated.
The electricity transport to the power storage must be secured
Therefore, in periods of calm wind, storage power plants must be available as "natural partners" of wind turbines. They ensure an uninterrupted supply of power, for in order to make the balance between wind power plants and storage power plants possible, the transport of electricity within Austria as well as beyond its borders must be ensured. On the one hand, for example, there’s an electricity supply bottleneck in the south of Austria, on the other hand, the best conditions for wind turbines and thus the highest electricity generation from wind power are in the northeast of Austria. This connection between electricity consumers and electricity generation in wind power and storage power plants can only be secured by ongoing investments in the electrical grid and by expanding the grid.
Reducing costs through electricity storage
Storage power plants make an important contribution to the economic optimisation of electricity generation. This advantage not only benefits power plant operators but customers too: by generating power at times of high demand, where the market prices for electricity are high, storage power plants, taken as a whole, contribute to a reduction in generation costs.
In addition, storage power plants contribute significantly to grid stabilisation due to their high deployment flexibility and the delivery of control power and control energy.
Importance of storage power plants in the future
In 2015, 4.8 TWh of electricity was generated by wind energy. This corresponds to approx. 7.4% of total electricity generation.
The importance of short-term flexibility in electricity generation, and thus of storage power plants, will grow strongly in the years and decades to come, given the predicted rapid increase in electricity generation by wind turbines, which can only generate electricity depending on wind conditions, as well as the progress of electric mobility.