U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Integrating Variable Wind Energy into the Grid
January 4, 2012
Wind doesn't always blow consistently and sometimes doesn’t blow at all, but wind energy is not unreliable—just ask grid operators. In a new report, Strategies and Decision Support Systems for Integrating Variable Energy Resources in Control Centers for Reliable Grid Operations, they offer their first-hand perspectives on how variable energy sources, including wind energy, actually impact grid operations.
Grid operators are the individuals who ensure that you receive electricity reliably and at an economical price. They balance electricity supply and demand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. You can think of them as the air traffic controllers for the power system, constantly monitoring and directing activities on the grid to keep the lights on in your home.
The study, a first-of-its-kind review, finds that the ability to forecast variable energy output is vital to successfully integrating variable energy into the electrical grid. The study also finds that decision support tools are also essential to helping grid operators incorporate wind forecasts and obtain optimal power flow in their grids. The study describes several decision support tools that are currently used by grid operators. However, existing decision support tools in the United States need to evolve further as more domestic variable energy enters the electrical grid. See Energy Blog post.