Managing intermittency key to wind power integration


Integrating wind power into the U.S. smart grid poses challenges for the energy industry, but new forecasting and price shifting techniques are helping overcome distribution obstacles related to generation intermittancy and load management.

During the first half of 2011, the U.S. Energy Information Association reported that 12.25 percent of U.S. energy production came from renewable sources. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that wind power represented 25 percent of all new U.S. electric generation in 2010. But despite recent growth and plans to accelerate the construction of wind infrastructure, there is still a long way to go before achieving widespread integration of wind into the smart grid.

In a discussion at the 2012 IEEE Innovation Smart Grid (ISG) conference in Washington, DC, smart grid professionals emphasized that although the deployment of renewable energy is not a new practice, the scale has been ramped up considerably from past years. This requires all the components of the grid and energy market work together.  

"Any one component is just a smart or interesting new technology. What makes things a smart grid is if we find a way to bring all these things together and be able to manage it without making the system less reliable than it already is," said Erich Gunther, co-founder at CTO of EnerNex.

The New York Idependent System Operator (NYISO) has been working to increase wind power distribution across its more than 19 million residents. To solve this problem, NYISO is using wind forecasting technology that allows eight-hour power projections to be generated every 15 minutes. NYISO also has power nodes throughout its system that can respond to signals as frequently as every five minutes, according to David Edelson, a senior project manager at NYISO.

This data is helping NYISO and other regional operators shape dynamic pricing and demand response initiatives, and know when to expect increased loads or a need for backup power.

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