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ERCOT, SPP systems see record wind generation levels

ERCOT, SPP systems see record wind generation levels

On November 10, wind generation hit record levels on the systems of two of the country's major independent transmission system operators, ERCOT (the Electric Reliability Council of Texas) and SPP (the Southwest Power Pool, which includes Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and parts of neighboring states). SPP then broke its November 10 record a week later on November 17.

ERCOT: At 10:21 a.m. on November 10, wind energy provided 8,521 MW, a new record high, on the ERCOT system, the electric utility system serving most of Texas. Wind accounted for about 26% of total electricity demand at the time. The prior wind output record was 8,368 MW, initially set on June 19, 2012, and tied late on November 9 in the build-up to Saturday’s record. Saturday’s record capped three straight days in which wind output remained at around 5,000 MW or above. Wind output remained above 6,800 MW for the entire day on November 10, with wind energy providing 8,279 MW during peak electricity demand that evening. More info available here and here: http://www.ercot.com/content/gridinfo/generation/windintegration/2012/11/ERCOT%20Wind%20Integration%20Report%2011-10-12.pdf, http://www.ercot.com/news/press_releases/show/26342

SPP: At 5:38 p.m. on November 10, wind energy provided 4,976 MW of output in the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), setting a new record for wind output for the region. SPP operates the electric utility system across part or all of eight states in the lower Great Plains. The record was short-lived, as one week later SPP set a new record, with 5,215 MW of wind output at 9:07 p.m. on November 17. At the time of both records, wind energy accounted for more than 21% of the electricity being consumed on the SPP utility system. At 1:40 a.m. on November 18, wind energy output of 5,021 MW provided 25.2% of the electricity being consumed in SPP, significantly more than was being provided by the combined output of nuclear and natural gas power plants at that time. For much of November 10 and 17, wind energy output eclipsed the combined output of nuclear and natural gas power plants in the SPP region.

These events vividly demonstrate that large quantities of wind energy can be reliably integrated onto the power system through the use of wind energy forecasting and other grid operating tools. As other examples, Xcel Energy’s utility system in Colorado frequently obtains more than 55% of its electricity from wind energy, and Portugal’s utility system has regularly exceeded 90% wind energy, all without any reliability problems. For all of 2011, wind energy provided about 20% of the electricity produced in Iowa and South Dakota.

Related articles:

Texas system operator tallies new record: 8,368 MW, June 21, 2012
WINDPOWER 2012 Update: Xcel Colorado sets new mark with 56.7% wind, June 5, 2012
Wind generation sets new records in Texas, Spain, May 22, 2012
Across the U.S., wind power sets new generation records, February 13, 2012
Xcel sets world record with 55.6% wind penetration, November 28, 2011
After a scorching week, wind power lessons from the Texas heat wave, August 11, 2011
Wind energy integration: Some fundamental facts, June 23, 2011

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Michael Goggin is Vice President at Grid Strategies LLC, a DC-area consulting firm working on grid and markets issues for clean energy clients including AWEA. He was previously head of Research at AWEA.

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