"This ground-breaking study demonstrates the major role wind power can provide across the Eastern US, reducing and stabilizing electricity rates while protecting the environment. It also shows the urgency of transmission reform for both onshore and offshore wind development, because if we wait any longer we will not have the lines soon enough to tap these cost-effective domestic renewable resources."
The two-year NREL study, called the Eastern Wind Integration and Transmission Study (EWITS), examined a series of future high-penetration wind scenarios in order to analyze the economic, operational, and technical implications of shifting 20 to 30 percent of the Eastern Interconnection’s electrical load to wind energy by the year 2024.
Among the key findings of the study, as highlighted by NREL:
* "The integration of 20 percent wind energy is technically feasible, but will require significant expansion of the transmission infrastructure and system operational changes in order for it to be realized;
* Without transmission enhancements, substantial curtailment of wind generation would be required for all 20 percent wind scenarios studied;
* The relative cost of aggressively expanding the existing transmission grid represents only a small portion of the total annualized costs in any of the scenarios studied;
* Drawing wind energy from a larger geographic area makes it both less expensive and a more reliable energy source – increasing the geographic diversity of wind power projects in a given operating pool makes the aggregated wind power output more predictable and less variable;
* Wind energy development is a highly cost-effective way to reduce carbon emissions – as more wind energy comes online, less energy from fossil-fuel burning plants is required, reducing greenhouse gas emissions;
* Carbon emissions are reduced by similar amounts in all scenarios, indicating that transmission helps to optimize the electrical system and does not result in coal power being shipped from the Midwest to New England States;
* Reduced fossil fuel expenditures more than pay for the increased costs of additional transmission in all high wind scenarios."
The EWITS Executive Summary and the full study can be downloaded for free at www.nrel.gov/ewits.