U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Renewable Systems Interconnection
As the nation moves toward an energy market with greater use of wind energy, it is becoming more important for gird operators to understand how they can reliably integrate large quantities of wind energy into routine system operations.
The Wind Program works with electric grid operators, utilities, regulators, and others to create new strategies for incorporating increasing amounts of wind energy into the power system while maintaining reliable operation of the grid.
Increasingly, utilities are considering using wind power to provide a portion of their electric power generation. However, many utilities also express concerns about wind power's possible impacts on electric power system operations, because it adds variability and uncertainty beyond what is present due to variations in electricity demand (also called load). These concerns, if not adequately addressed, could limit the development potential of wind power in the U.S.
The program's goal for renewable systems interconnection is to complete program activities by 2012 addressing electric power market rules, interconnection impacts, operating strategies, and system planning needed for wind energy to compete without disadvantage to serve the nation's energy needs.
Research Project Highlights
Program researchers work with industry partners on projects aimed at increasing utilities' understanding of integration issues and confidence in the reliability of new wind turbine products.
The program works to improve the current state of the art in wind forecasting, one of the most beneficial strategies for mitigating wind variability and uncertainty, by providing data for forecast verification, improving forecast accuracy, and evaluating the best methods for presenting forecast data to system operators. The program also works to provide accurate measurements and representations of the wind resource at modern wind turbine hub heights.
Wind Plant Performance Characterization
The program works with the wind industry to provide utilities and grid planners with better wind generator electrical models for use in interconnection studies. By using non-proprietary models, these organizations will help speed the interconnection process and better represent wind turbines' capabilities to contribute to overall system reliability. The program also collects data about the power supplied from commercial wind farms. These data allow analysis of how best to determine the power curve for wind farms, help improve wind forecasts, and help better evaluate how turbine wake effects can impact power production.
The program supports efforts to inform power systems planners on how to best represent the characteristics of wind power. This issue will become more important as broad regional transmission planning efforts evolve. Additionally, the program sponsors large-scale wind integration studies that analyze transmission system needs for delivering wind power to load centers and examine the operational and production cost impacts of relatively high penetration levels of wind and other renewable energy technologies.
Grid Operational Impact Analysis
At present, the generation and transmission operational impacts that occur due to wind variability are not well quantified. Without realistic analysis and cost allocation, utilities may tend to overestimate imposed operational costs, resulting in the undervaluing of wind power in the system. Research conducted by the program uses engineering and cost analyses to quantify and fairly allocate impacts. Costs for grid integration of wind may also increase as wind deployment expands in the future. Both short- and longer-term mitigation of intermittency issues, including wind plant forecasting and control, application of energy storage, and regional cooperation, could reduce additional integration costs.
Outreach and Education
Outreach and education efforts inform a variety of stakeholders about how wind power integration may impact their specific areas of interest. The program works with a variety of stakeholders, including investor-owned utilities, electric cooperatives, public power organizations, regulatory bodies, and standards-setting organizations. Program outreach also disseminates the results of research and development efforts and analyses, as well as best practices and lessons learned. Outreach efforts encourage the inclusion of wind power in generation portfolios and ensure the continued growth of the wind energy industry.
Integration of Wind Energy and Hydropower Technologies
To gain a better understanding of the synergy that may exist between wind and hydropower technologies, researchers are working with federal Power Marketing Administrations to analyze potential and existing generation projects and watershed basin and electric control areas. This collaborative research will determine whether hydropower operations can be modified to accommodate wind without adversely affecting the other flow requirements, as well as quantify the benefits of integrating wind and hydropower systems.