Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Pacific Northwest’s Wind Fleet Integration Struggles

An extremely good, and relatively short, article
For Ontarians, an example of a region with more storage capacity and only 20% more demand struggling to cope with intermittent supply.
For all, a good example of California's protectionism harming expansion of more affordable energy (though it's not nearly as damaging as the northeast states' protectionism to block Quebec hydro)

The Pacific Northwest’s Wind Fleet Integration Struggles :: POWER Magazine:
Mae West said, “Too much of a good thing can be taxing.” The Pacific Northwest has a good thing—plentiful, carbon-free power from its huge wind and hydroelectric fleets. But wind’s huge variability can be taxing. The Northwest’s scramble to integrate growing wind generation, and the resulting litigation melee, underscore the importance of quickly solving the variable resource integration puzzle.
Over the past decade, wind generation in the Northwest has exploded. Wind capacity has grown from almost nothing to nearly 5,000 MW in the region’s largest balancing area, the Bonneville Power Administration. Already, hourly ramps from wind generation regularly exceed 2,000 MW. These rapid ramps will continue to grow with the size of the wind fleet, which Bonneville expects to reach 6,000 MW to 7,500 MW by 2017. With its huge carbon-free capacity and flexibility to rapidly adjust output, the Northwest’s hydro system is ideally suited to balance these ramps. But the hydro system is now often taxed to the breaking point to reliably integrate large volumes of wind generation.

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