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‘Human memory’ wind turbines developed

New technology could offer hope to wind turbine adaptation to variable weather conditions

Wind energy production hampered by temperamental weather patterns

A coalition of Chinese engineers and researchers have developed a human-based memory system which they believe will allow wind turbines to better adapt to variable weather conditions.

Most turbines are designed to produce maximum allowable power once winds reach a certain speed but the new models allow wind turbines to adjust their blades and the direction they are facing to better use high and low wind currents.

In winds above or below the rated speed, control systems can make changes to the turbine system, such as modifying the angle of the blades or the electromagnetic torque of the generator. These changes help keep the power efficiency high in low winds and protect the turbine from damage in high winds, say the researchers.

Many control systems rely on complex and computationally expensive models of the turbine's behavior, but the Chinese group decided to experiment with a different approach.

The researchers developed a biologically inspired control system that used memory of past control experiences and their outcomes to generate new actions. In simulations, the controller showed initially poor results, but quickly learned how to improve, matching the performance of a more traditional control system overall, according to a statement.

The findings were this week published in the American Institute of Physics’ Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy.