The natural variability of the wind resource can present challenges to grid system operators and planners with regard to managing regula-tion, load following, scheduling, line voltage, and reserves. While the current level of wind penetration in the United States and around the world has provided substantial experience for successful grid operations with wind power, many grid operators need to gain a better understanding of the impacts of wind on the utility grid before they can feel comfortable increasing the percentage of wind in their energy portfolios. The goal of the program’s systems integration research is to address interconnection impacts, electric power market rules, operating strategies, and system planning needed for wind energy to compete without disadvantage to serve the Nation’s energy needs.
In 2006, the Wind Energy Program conducted a number of studies to provide states and utilities with the information and tools they need for wind energy development. For example, the program provided extensive GIS-based wind resource and transmission data to help the Western Area Governors Association (WGA) and the Clean and Diversified Energy Advisory Committee (CDEAC) to identify 30 GW of clean power that could be developed by 2015. In 2006, the CDEAC Wind Task Force developed a set of supply curves based on this data. The findings of the study indicate that the wind resource in the WGA region is more than enough to economically achieve the WGA 30-GW target for clean energy development.
Additional 2006 system integration activities included a study that provided the Western Farmers Electric Cooperative with a systems integration and wind power data analysis, a wind integra-tion study for the state of Minnesota, and a study for Xcel Energy in Colorado that provided the company with the data it needs to assess the technical and economic impact of adding a significant amount of wind generation to its energy portfolio.
Transmission is a key energy infrastructure element critical to tapping our national wind resource and moving electricity to market, much as the interstate highway system does for the Nation’s trans-portation needs. Much of the Nation’s best wind resources cannot be tapped to meet our increasing energy demands without new transmission system capacity. The development of new transmission is challenged by many regulatory, jurisdictional siting, and cost allocation barriers. The program is working with state and Federal energy offices as well as regional organizations and utilities to support appropriate representation of wind energy characteristics and opportunities in energy infrastructure planning processes underway across the nation.
The development of new transmission corridors requires the coordination of many different organizations and groups from the Federal, regional, state, and local levels. Upgrading the Nation’s transmission system, like upgrading the interstate highway system, will have substantial costs and will cross many organizational boundaries.
The Wind Energy Program is working closely with the DOE Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability to effectively coordinate the Department of Energy’s contributions to the transmission planning efforts. This joint program effort will focus on linking remote regions with low-cost wind power to urban load centers, allowing thousands of homes and businesses access to abundant renewable energy.
The Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) provides electric power system operations training to power system operators and dispatchers throughout the United States and Canada at its Electric Power Training Center (EPTC) in Golden, Colorado. A significant portion of this training is performed with the Miniature Power System (MPS), an actual power system consisting of three synchronous generators (scaled up to 500 MW total), five loads, two ties to the western electrical grid, and a simulation of more than 500 miles of transmission lines. To enable WAPA to integrate wind energy into its training program, NREL’s NWTC supplied WAPA with a wind farm simulator in 2006 that successfully simulated power delivery to the MPS grid from a time-series file of real wind-farm data for a 50-MW wind farm.