DOE Highlights Report on Successful Strategies for Renewable Energy Grid Integration

December 19, 2011 by Jeff Shepard

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the release of a DOE-funded report to help better integrate wind energy into the electrical grid. The report, entitled "Strategies and Decision Support Systems for Integrating Variable Energy Resources in Control Centers for Reliable Grid Operations: Global Best Practices, Examples of Excellence and Lessons Learned," provides first-hand perspectives on the effects of variable energy sources, including wind power plants on grid operations. It also supplies grid operators with practical tools and information to help them tackle the challenge of integrating more renewable energy resources into the nation’s power grid.

Wind energy production has increased worldwide in the past two decades, growing from roughly 2 gigawatts in 1990 to almost 200 gigawatts in 2010 – enough to serve about 50 million U.S. homes. Accelerating the use of renewables will help reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and support job creation. But for systems operators, integrating large proportions of variable energy sources like wind power – which can vary with weather and season – into electricity grids presents some technical challenges.

In preparing this first-of-its-kind report, funded by DOE through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, AREVA Federal Services and Alstom Grid Inc. interviewed 33 grid operators in 18 countries who, together, are responsible for integrating 72% of all wind energy harnessed for electricity worldwide. The report describes nine decision support tools, which help grid operators determine how much transmission and generation are needed and when. It also shares best practices to improve situational awareness, training, wind power forecasting, and processes and procedures currently in use by grid operators.

The report documents several conclusions, including:

– Wind power forecasting is a vital element in successful wind power integration

– Decision support tools leveraging wind power forecasts are essential to optimize the flow of wind energy into the electrical grid

– Existing decision support tools need to evolve further to meet a scenario of 20% wind energy by 2030 in the United States

– Wind power generation has only a marginal effect on the need for additional system reserves

– Smart grid technologies can aid wind integration

– Successful integration of wind power also relies on effective operating policies, standards, and regulations supported at the local, state, national, and international levels.

The report concludes with several recommendations for short-term and medium-term actions for utilities to successfully integrate wind energy into control room operations, and identifies topics for future research.

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy invests in clean energy technologies that strengthen the economy, protect the environment, and reduce dependence on foreign oil. Learn more about DOE’s efforts to research, test, develop, and deploy innovative wind energy technologies.

More news and information regarding the latest developments in Smart Grid electronics can be found at Darnell’s SmartGridElectronics.Net.