Oregon wants to add wind energy to its Pacific Northwest. An initiative aims to integrate wind and natural gas-fired energy to reduce the use of coal-fired generation. The effort could change how wind is backed by using energy from many resources that are capable of adjusting their generation levels in response to wind’s natural variation.
The region has grown to have more than 5,000 MW in operation in the past 12 years. More than 3,000 MW are connected to the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) transmission system. Because the wind doesn’t blow continuously, the actual energy output of regional wind farms is about 30% of capacity.
Because wind is an intermittent resource, it must be backed up by reserves. Currently, wind generation is backed exclusively with energy from federal hydropower marketed by BPA. Wind power’s growth in the Northwest threatens to exhaust the federal dams’ capacity to provide wind-balancing services alone.
The self-supply program lets wind generators procure their own balancing resources, freeing up federal hydropower. BPA says this will increase hydro-system flexibility, which would help add more renewable resources to the electricity grid.
“This will support Northwest wind power,” says Cathy Ehli, vice president, BPA Transmission Services Marketing and Sales. “If this continues to go well, we’ll make better use of both hydropower and wind power and decrease fossil fuel emissions. It’s a great example of the collaboration among many parties interested in integrating more renewable resources to the mix that powers the Northwest.”
Iberdrola Renewables www.iberdrolarenewables.us
Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) www.bpa.gov
Filed Under: Projects