Jun 3, 2009

Transmission and Wind

I came across a very good paper produced by National Grid on technical and policy constraints surrounding wind power. It's interesting to note that "the grid" was largely developed on a utility-by-utility basis. In other words, each utility system operator built a network of generation and distribution based on their specific geographic areas needs. Makes perfect sense when you think about it, but one of the consequences of this is that it can be difficult to move electricity from new/unconventional sources into the grid, particularly if those sources are a long way away (e.g. North Dakota). 

It's also good to see that the problem of wind power intermittency (e.g. no electricity because the wind is not right) is perhaps not as big a problem as we might have thought. There was/is a concern that wind generation would have to be supplemented with an array of gas-fired peaker generation to cover demand and maintain deliverability while wind conditions are not favorable. It looks like that may less of a problem than expected, which is good, because generation plants are not cheap.

I find the regulatory reforms described in the paper to be innovative and probably necessary if wind is ever going to truly be a major source of electric power.

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