Wind energy briefly supplied more than half of all electricity demand for a group of 14 states in North America on Sunday February 12, a first for any US power grid.
Reuters reports that the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) said on Monday that wind power briefly reached 52.1 per cent of total power generation at 4:30am local time on Sunday, beating the previous penetration milestone of 49.2 per cent.
For SPP, which manages the flow of electricity on the high voltage power lines from Montana and North Dakota to New Mexico, Texas and Louisiana, wind power is the network’s third biggest source of generation, supplying about 15 per cent of power, behind natural gas and coal.
This comes from the more than 16,000MW of wind power capacity installed in the region, up from less than 400MW in the early 2000s .
“Ten years ago, we thought hitting even a 25 per cent wind-penetration level would be extremely challenging, and any more than that would pose serious threats to reliability,” SPP vice president of operations Bruce Rew said in a statement.
“Now we have the ability to reliably manage greater than 50 per cent wind penetration. It’s not even our ceiling.
“With a (generation) footprint as broad as ours, even if the wind stops blowing in the upper Great Plains, we can deploy resources waiting in the Midwest and Southwest to make up any sudden deficits,” Rew said.
By comparison, in Australia, South Australia’s wind turbines last year exceeded local demand for more than 10 hours on a Sunday in May, with a peak of 120 per cent of demand at one point. And in July last year, they delivered 83 per cent of the state grid’s power needs.
And in Denmark last November, wind farms generated enough energy to meet almost all of the country’s electricity demand over the course of one Saturday. While in Portugal, wind – combined with hydro and solar power – helped push the European country to run on 100 per cent renewable electricity for 107 hours straight in May 2016.
According to US government data, of the 11 states of America that received more than 10 per cent of their power from wind in 2015, the top five are Iowa at 31 per cent, South Dakota at 25 per cent, Kansas at 24 percent, Oklahoma at 18 per cent and North Dakota at 18 per cent, all at least partially located in the SPP grid.