DOE Releases Eastern Wind Integration And Transmission Study

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The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory today released a major study of the technical, operational, and economic issues facing the integration of large amounts of wind energy into the power system. The Eastern Wind Integration and Transmission Study (EWITS), the largest study of its kind conducted in the United States to date, evaluates the future operational and integration impacts of up to 30% wind energy penetration into the power system in the study year 2024. The study encompasses the majority of the utilities in the Eastern Interconnection. The study also includes a high-level analysis of transmission needed to deliver the wind energy to load centers and a cursory analysis of carbon pricing impacts.

The study consists of three main parts: a wind resource assessment and wind plant siting study, a transmission study, and a wind integration study. The results of the study show that:

* There are no fundamental technical barriers to the integration of 20% wind energy into the electrical system, but transmission planning and system operation policy and market development need to continue to evolve in order for these penetration levels to be achieved;

* Without transmission enhancements, substantial curtailment of wind generation would be required for all of the 20% wind penetration scenarios;

* Interconnection-wide costs for integrating large amounts of wind generation are manageable with large regional operating pools, because increasing the geographic diversity of wind power projects in a given operating pool generally makes the aggregated wind power output more predicable and less variable, while also reducing the variation in load and increasing the number of generation assets that can be committed and dispatched;

* Although the costs of aggressive expansion of the existing grid are significant, they make up a relatively small piece of the total annual power system costs in any of the scenarios studied;

* Wind generation displaces carbon-based fuels, directly reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Emissions continue to decline as more wind generation is added to the energy supply; and

* Reduced expenditures on fossil fuel costs more than pay for the increased costs of transmission in all wind scenarios.

DOE is sponsoring a similar study that is examining the integration of both wind and solar energy into part of the Western Interconnection. The Western Wind and Solar Integration Study will evaluate issues similar to EWITS and is scheduled for completion in mid-2010.

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