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SWIFT: Connecting Wind Turbines to the Grid Smarter, Faster & Cheaper

The European Wind Energy Association claims that by 2030 it should be possible to cover 23% of our electricity needs by using wind energy. Yet, the use of renewable resources comes with a number of important challenges. Wind energy, for instance, is characterized by a high degree of volatility – which complicates the proper dimensioning of electricity grids. 

The imec.icon SWIFT project investigated which approaches could help us connect wind turbines to the electricity grid more quickly and cost-efficiently, maximizing the availability of green energy while mitigating the threat of uncontrolled peak production. 

“Today, before connecting a wind turbine, we assess its impact on the network and use that info to prepare and adapt our infrastructure. As such, we avoid that the network gets overloaded if peaks in electricity production should occur,” says Ruth Van Caenegem (Eandis). 

“In practice, this means that electricity networks are dimensioned to handle rare peaks,” adds Matthias Strobbe (imec - Ghent University). “Not only is that pretty expensive; it also makes connecting new turbines a slow process, because of all the preparatory work that is required.”

In this demo, some of SWIFT’s project outcomes are presented that aim at making this process more efficient – exploring a number of active network management approaches, both from a technical and an economic perspective. 

Copyright imec 2017