The wind power integration study, funded by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, examined how the power system would operate in scenarios in which 10%, 20%, and 40% of the electricity was supplied by wind energy in Nebraska and the SPP region, which includes all of Kansas and Oklahoma, most of Nebraska, and parts of New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi and Arkansas. A 40% wind energy penetration is one of the highest levels studied thus far, in the U.S. or anywhere in the world.
Major carbon emission reductions were found in all scenarios, with CO2 emissions dropping by over 25 million tons per year in moving from the 10% wind scenario to the 40% wind scenario.
The study also found that the cost of operating the power system differently to accommodate wind energy was modest, although exact integration costs varied depending on the methodology used to account for the costs. One method found costs ranging from $1.39 per megawatt-hour (MWh) of wind energy in the 10% wind case up to $1.68 per MWh of wind energy in the 40% case.
Another method was applied only to the 10% and 20% wind cases and found costs of $1.92/MWh in the 10% case and $3.11 in the 20% case, while a third found costs of $3.21/MWh in the 10% case and $4.29/MWh in the 20% case. Still another method looked at the unlikely scenario that SPP customers would be assigned the cost of accommodating the variability of wind energy exported to other regions and found higher integration costs.
Aside from this last, improbable cost distribution scenario, all of these methods found integration costs considerably below the integration costs calculated in other studies, which is particularly noteworthy because of the high wind penetrations examined in this study.
“This study corroborates what we’ve learned from around a dozen other wind integration studies and tens of thousands of hours of real-world grid operating experience: wind energy is a very effective tool for reducing carbon emissions, and large amounts of wind power can be reliably integrated onto the grid at low cost,” said AWEA’s Senior Vice President for Public Policy Rob Gramlich.
AWEA is the national trade association of America’s wind industry, with more than 2,500 member companies, including global leaders in wind power and energy development, wind turbine manufacturing, component and service suppliers, and the world’s largest wind power trade show. AWEA is the voice of wind energy in the U.S., promoting renewable energy to power a cleaner, stronger America.