Developing Technology Making Wind Power as Reliable as Conventional Power

Massachusetts-based wind energy company General Compression and its compressor technology partner Mechanology are using Ricardo's automotive engineering and development expertise to develop technology which aims to make wind power as reliable as conventional power.

With energy security and global warming at the very top of the political agenda in all parts of the world, renewable energy resources are increasingly seen as an important contributor to the future of regional and national grid power supplies. Of the potentially large-scale renewable energy resources wind is perhaps the most universally available, as virtually every part of the earth's surface experiences the natural force of the wind. However, as the wind is subject to the vagaries of the weather and as such is inherently unpredictable, wind energy has traditionally been seen as an intermittent source of electrical power. General Compression's proprietary Dispatchable Wind(TM) system carries the descriptive tagline 'wind energy on demand' because it decouples wind energy capture from electrical power generation by substituting the electric generators in its wind turbines with advanced compressor systems linked to a central high pressure compressed air reservoir at each wind farm. The reservoir acts as an energy buffer, storing compressed air which can be passed through an expander plant in order to generate electricity whenever it's needed - not just when the wind is blowing.

Dispatchable Wind is based on the use of the innovative, high energy density Dragonfly(TM) compressor under development by Mechanology, Inc. Ricardo has been chosen by Mechanology to be one of its key product development partners to assist in developing the Dragonfly(TM) such that it will meet or exceed the rigours of round-the-clock operation with an expected life in excess of 20 years. Ricardo is applying its well-proven product engineering skills and practices in areas such as design optimization & material selection, performance modelling and analysis, mechanical dynamic analysis, reliability and robustness engineering, design for manufacture and cost optimization.

"Increasing energy efficiency has been a prime focus at Ricardo for many years," said Ricardo Inc. President Dean Harlow. "Our deep engineering experience places us in an ideal position to assist in the development of the high energy density Dragonfly(TM) compressor. General Compression's goal of making wind power available on-demand with its Dispatchable Wind system signals a major advancement in the practical application of this important renewable energy source. For Ricardo, it is yet another opportunity to apply our advanced engineering skills and technology to address global energy issues in a range of rapidly developing industrial sectors."

Ricardo, the Eco-Innovation Technology Company, is a leading independent provider of technology, product innovation, engineering solutions and strategic consulting to the world's automotive, transport and new energy industries. The company's skill base represents the state-of-the-art in low emissions and fuel-efficient powertrain technology, and can be best summarized: "Ricardo is Fuel Economy."

With technical centers and offices throughout Europe, the U.S. and Asia, Ricardo provides engineering expertise ranging from vehicle systems integration, controls & electronics, software and software development, to the latest driveline and transmission systems and gasoline, diesel, hybrid and fuel cell powertrain technologies. Its customers include the world's major automakers and suppliers as well as manufacturers in the military, commercial and off-highway sectors. The company also serves in advisory roles to governmental and independent agencies. Ricardo's U.S. operation, Ricardo, Inc., is headquartered in Van Buren Township, Michigan. Ricardo plc posted sales of $344 million in financial year 2007 and is a constituent of the FTSE techMark 100 index - a group of innovative technology companies listed on the London Stock Exchange.

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