Denmark has set its renewable energy target at 30% of total energy consumption by 2020 (renewables currently account for about 20%). One of the challenges of using renewable energy sources such as wind and solar energy in the national grid is their fluctuating power generation depending on factors such as the weather, time of day and season. Incorporating increasing amounts of energy from renewable sources while at the same time ensuring grid stability requires intelligent electricity systems – a challenge Denmark is rising to with a will, the latest initiative being PowerLabDK.
A consortium comprising the Centre for Electric Technology at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), the National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy (Risø DTU), Copenhagen University College of Engineering and utility company Østkraft on the island of Bornholm have started the first phase of PowerLabDK, an experimental platform for electric power and energy with a budget of DKK 131m (USD 26.5m). The second phase is planned to start at the beginning of 2011, reports the Danish Energy Association in its daily newsletter.
Professor Jacob Østergaard, the head of the Centre for Electric Technology, says: "We can for example test how you can safely integrate large amounts of wind energy into the grid without it becoming unmanageable. With PowerLabDK, the road from basic research to test and demonstration will be shorter. PowerLabDK uniquely enables us to test at full scale an electricity system with a large number of consumers."
The Danish island of Bornholm, which lies in the Baltic Sea, will function as a full scale laboratory. It is well suited for this task since 30% of its energy supply is generated from wind turbines, and its power connection to Sweden can be switched off, enabling the island to function as a closed system.