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How Texas wind farms are putting intermittency concerns to rest

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It is August and that means the latest version of The Wind Technologies Market Report (WTMR) has been released by the US DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) office.

The WTMR is a chronicle of growth and economic and technology trends in the wind industry.  Wind power has begun taking its place as a substantial contributor to electricity generation in the US.  Due to its intermittent nature there is an increasing, and some suggest, premature, concern over limits on penetration.

This is probably driven in large part by the large amounts of curtailment in Texas in 2009.  The 2014 WTMR may put some of those concerns to rest.  Data in the report show that in Texas, curtailment has been slashed from 17% in 2009 to 0.5% in 2014 (figure 1).  This occurred despite the backdrop of increased wind generation in Texas.  It was due in large part to bringing added transmission online.

wind-2014-curtailment-graph

Figure 1:  Changes in wind curtailment by date.  Texas’ wind curtailment is labeled ERCOT.  WTMR p38

The improvement was no  accident.  As wind became valued as an important contributor to the Texas generation portfolio, it became apparent that to fully benefit from wind they would need to build transmission lines from where the best generation sites were to the population centers where it would be used.  The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) set about defining Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZ) and creating an electric transmission plan to assure that the electricity could get from the CREZs to point of use.  The transmission lines have now been built and have nearly zeroed out the need to curtail wind generation.

ERCOT publishes quarterly progress reports for the CREZ program HERE .  In the summary maps below (figures 1,2,3) it is easy to track progress over time of the transmission line build out.  Comparing these to the data in figure 1 it is clear that the new transmission has successfully cleared the congestion that was limiting the use of wind generation.  Perhaps most impressive is that the substantial reductions in curtailment occurred at the same time that wind energy generation increased by almost 100% (Figure 5 below).

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 3.19.07 pm

Figure 2:  CREZ transmission line project status  November 2014 – Complete – Public Utility Commission of Texas

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 3.18.04 pm

 

Figure 3: CREZ transmission line project status October 2013 – Partially Complete – Public Utility Commission of Texas

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 3.17.05 pm

Figure 4: CREZ transmission line project status October 2012 – Partially Complete – Public Utility Commission of Texas

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 3.15.14 pm

 

Figure 5: Texas Wind Capacity and total generation.  EIA

This article was originally published on The Handleman Post. Reproduced here with permission  

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  • john

    As I see it build a decent transmission system and utilise the available generation ability this not rocket science

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    • nakedChimp

      no one sane ever said it was rocket science.. it’s incumbent rent seeking monopolists who find all kinds of excuses not to do this.

      • philofthefuture

        More often than not it has been environmentalists blocking transmission lines by using the endangered species act.

        • OneHundredbyFifty

          Appears to be the public utilities commission and NIMBY, not environmentalists – http://www.grainbeltexpresscleanline.com/site/page/regulatory_approvals

        • nakedChimp

          I’d wager a bet that 75-90% of this is directed and orchestrated by the FF sector 😉

        • JamesWimberley

          So why have they not blocked lines in Texas?

          • OneHundredbyFifty

            I don’t know but here is my guess.

            1) Texas is a single state. The laws get very complicated as you cross state lines.
            2) All of the benefits go to the same state so easier to get buy-in.
            3) Much lower population density so fewer NIMBYs and lower percentage of them.
            4) IL and MO, where Grainbelt Express has been voted down are both coal states. Not much mining in MO but Peabody HQ is there and lots of coal power. TX is a gas state, in the near term wind creates demand for gas power though long term probably not.

    • Shiggity

      A properly functioning government in Texas is much more difficult than Rocket Science.

      Think about it in relative terms. The most conservative state in the union just built a wind super highway in ~24 months. This makes California and New York look like incompetant fools in terms of wind energy by comparison.

      • JamesWimberley

        Psst. It’s Texan SOCIALISM at work. ERCOT is a state monopoly grid agency, independent from the generating companies. As you see, it works fine.

  • JimBouton

    I believe Texas (ERCOT) is now close to 16 GW of wind installed through August 2015.

    • eveee

      Thats about right. Hard to read from the graph. The blue bar, installed wind capacity.

      http://www.ercot.com/content/gridinfo/generation/windintegration/2015/08/Wind%20Integration%20Report%2008-12-2015.pdf

      • JimBouton

        This chart is running a few months behind, but at the end of 2Q2015, Texas is now at 15,635 MW of wind. Texas is not exactly equal to ERCOT, but I believe all of the wind installed in Texas is in the ERCOT grid.

        ERCOT has added about 1,500 MW of wind so far in 2015. They will add (approved) another 5,500 MW over the next 16 months.

        Another nice thing I have begun to notice is a lot of my neighbors are putting up solar panels. I have spotted about ten homes in my neighborhood (Dallas) that have put up panels in the last year.

        http://apps2.eere.energy.gov/wind/windexchange/wind_installed_capacity.asp

        • eveee

          Nice. Thanks. I noticed that the March 2014 ERCOT wind plan was some 26GW. Thats fantastic. I always maintained Texas should get with solar. Its a great state for it. Any place hot with that much sun can really benefit from solar for air conditioning loads.
          Rooftop PV Solar is growing really fast. Still small numbers, but it has all the signs of being the kind of change cell phones were. Slow at first, then quickly. Before you know it, it will be widespread. Then we can talk about the good old days when roofs didn’t have solar panels….
          and there were phone booths everywhere.