Professor Xiao-Ping Zhang addresses the UNESCO conference

Using smart energy control technology to combine wind and wave power could provide all the world’s electricity needs – thanks to research from the University of Birmingham.

Scientists at the University propose integrating wind and wave energy generation so that the system’s overall power output becomes very smooth and can be easily connected to national power grids.

The proposal would do away with the need for expensive power converters and battery storage, overcoming the two major challenges of wave energy generation - efficiently converting irregular, slow, high-force motion into electrical power and making wave generator output power with acceptable quality to the utility network.

Professor Xiao-Ping Zhang, Director of Smart Grid, Birmingham Energy Institute at the University of Birmingham, outlined the proposal in his keynote speech on wind-wave energy system integration at the recent 2019 UNESCO International Water Conference, in Paris.

Professor Zhang commented: “There is great potential to integrate wind and wave energy Generation. With one million GW of wind energy available from total land coverage of the earth, just one per cent of this would meet global electricity demand – not forgetting that global wave power potential alone could be up to 10,000 GW.

“Our proposed integration solution would deliver significant economic benefits - reducing the amount of technology needed by creating a shared power delivery system for wind and wave farms and leading to significant savings in investment in wave energy generation.”

Prof Zhang added that Birmingham’s wind-wave energy integration strategy could work alongside the Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organization’s (GEIDCO) initiative to promote the sustainable development of energy worldwide.

The Beijing-based organisation is developing a Global Energy Interconnection (GEI) system that will meet the global demand for electricity in a clean and green way, as well as implementing the United Nations “Sustainable Energy for All” and climate change initiatives.

Professor Zhang outlined Birmingham’s plans at the conference which drew government ministers from 40 countries and more than 1,000 experts and scientists from 126 countries, to discuss innovative solutions to problems related to the governance and management of water.

Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General, noted: "Access to water is not only a matter of development. Above all, it is a fundamental right and an instrument of peace and security in the world. It is our collective responsibility to put in place a responsible management of this common good. This is the very spirit of the Conference: to change our way of thinking and adopt a holistic approach for the sustainable management of this universal resource.”

  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions, its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.
  • The Birmingham Energy Institute is the focal point for the University and its national partners, to create change in the way we deliver, consume and think about energy. The Institute harnesses expertise from the fundamental sciences and engineering through to business and economics to deliver co-ordinated research, education and the development of global partnerships. By creating technology and guiding policy today, the aim is to help shape energy solutions tomorrow.
  • The history of collaboration between China and the University of Birmingham dates back almost to the foundation of the University in 1901. The China Institute was created to reflect the University’s extensive academic activities its colleagues undertake in China.
  • UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. It seeks to build peace through international cooperation in Education, the Sciences and Culture. UNESCO's programmes contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals defined in Agenda 2030, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015.
  • GEIDCO, founded in March 2016, currently has 635 members, covering 93 countries and regions. It has issued many important research findings, including Global Energy Interconnection Backbone Grid Research, Global Energy Interconnection Development Index, Global Energy Interconnection Standard System Research, and Global Energy Interconnection Technology & Equipment Innovation Outline. It has also synergized with major UN initiatives and launched action plans at UN conferences, including Global Energy Interconnection Action Plan to Promote the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Global Energy Interconnection Action Plan for Promoting the Implementation of the Paris Agreement, and GEI Action Plan for Promoting Global Environmental Protection, providing important plans and action roadmaps for GEI construction and sustainable development of various countries.