This executive report summary comes from the DOE and was written by Astrom Grid Inc’s Lawrence E. Jones.
Wind doesn’t always blow consistently and sometimes doesn’t blow at all, but wind energy is not unreliable – just ask grid operators. In a recent report, Strategies and Decision Support Systems for Integrating Variable Energy Resources in Control Centers for Reliable Grid Operations. Grid operators provide first-hand perspectives on how variable energy sources, including wind energy, actually impact grid operations.
Grid operators ensure that you receive electricity reliably and at an economical price. They balance electricity supply and demand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, year round. Think of them as the air traffic controllers for the power system, constantly monitoring and directing activities on the grid to keep the lights on in homes and businesses.
The study finds that the ability to forecast variable energy output is vital to successfully integrating variable energy into the electrical grid. The study also finds that decision support tools are also essential to helping grid operators incorporate wind forecasts and obtain optimal power flow in their grids. The study describes several decision support tools used by grid operators. However, existing decision support tools in the United States must evolve further as more domestic variable energy enters the electrical grid.
Despite these challenges, the grid operators interviewed have a positive outlook for integrating variable energy and are eager to share and apply best practices with other operators.
The Energy Department funded two organizations, Areva Federal Services and Alstom Grid, through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. As part of the study, Areva and Alstom interviewed 33 grid operators in 18 countries responsible for integrating 72% of the wind energy world-wide into their grids.
Over the past two decades, there has been a large increase in the production of wind energy across the world, growing from roughly 2 GW in 1990 to almost 200 GW in 2010. The final report and executive summary provide further insight from grid operators about the challenges, solutions, and successes of integrating variable wind energy into the grid.
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