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The Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) asserts in a study released last month that the power grid for five western states – Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Wyoming – the WestConnect territory – could operate on as much as 30 percent wind and 5 percent solar without the construction of extensive new infrastructure. WestConnect System Map. Click image for the largest view. The wind is packed with kinetic energy – molecules in motion that can be used to make other molecules move such as commonly seen windmill water pumps, or used to compress gas and converted into electricity. When it blows. When the wind is becalmed, there isn’t any energy other than the latent heat. When the NREL made its assertion one had to read the study. Dr. Debra Lew, project manager for the study, said in her statement, “If key changes can be made to standard operating procedures, our research shows that large amounts of wind and solar can be incorporated onto the grid without a lot of backup generation.” The situation now has it that large coal, natural gas or nuclear plants would always need to stand ready to provide backup power whenever the wind ceased to blow or clouds blocked the sun. The NREL scientists looked at that supposition head on and found that ‘stand ready’ would be largely baseless when the parameters were optimized. It concluded that in the West, a broad distribution of wind turbines and solar generation would essentially smooth out the supply of renewable power. Lew explained simply, “When you coordinate the operations between utilities across a large geographic area, you decrease the effect of the variability of wind and solar energy sources, mitigating the unpredictability of Mother Nature.” Called ‘The Western Wind and Solar Integration Study” it examines the benefits and challenges of integrating enough wind and solar energy capacity into the grid to produce 35 percent of its electricity by 2017
Dec 5, 2013 Energy Talks Comments Off
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