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Wind power must be managed to ensure electric supply

It was nearly a year ago that a sudden drop in the wind out in West Texas played havoc with the state's biggest electricity grid, as backup generation failed to quickly fill the gap and emergency safeguards barely contained what could have been a major power disruption. ...While the current financial crisis has curtailed investment in wind power, the growing certainty of U.S. legislation putting a cost on carbon emissions should keep wind power growing, other speakers said.

HOUSTON, TEXAS: It was nearly a year ago that a sudden drop in the wind out in West Texas played havoc with the state's biggest electricity grid, as backup generation failed to quickly fill the gap and emergency safeguards barely contained what could have been a major power disruption.

The state has added even more wind power in the meantime, but simply having a lot of wind power doesn't necessarily foretell reliability problems, said Antonio Coutinho, chief energy management officer of Horizon Wind Energy of Houston.

Horizon is owned by EDP Renewables of Portugal, and the recent experience of Spain with its wind power is an example of how wind power can fit into a power grid, Coutinho told an audience Thursday at the annual Cambridge Energy Research Associates forum.

Wind power recently accounted for about 45 percent of the off-peak electricity load in Spain, briefly providing nearly 11,000 megawatts of the 25,000 megawatts being used at the time. Spain, which narrowly trails Germany as Europe's biggest wind power producer, had about 16,000 megawatts of wind capacity installed as of Dec. 31. That's twice the approximately 8,000 megawatts of capacity that Texas recorded as of the end of... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

HOUSTON, TEXAS: It was nearly a year ago that a sudden drop in the wind out in West Texas played havoc with the state's biggest electricity grid, as backup generation failed to quickly fill the gap and emergency safeguards barely contained what could have been a major power disruption.

The state has added even more wind power in the meantime, but simply having a lot of wind power doesn't necessarily foretell reliability problems, said Antonio Coutinho, chief energy management officer of Horizon Wind Energy of Houston.

Horizon is owned by EDP Renewables of Portugal, and the recent experience of Spain with its wind power is an example of how wind power can fit into a power grid, Coutinho told an audience Thursday at the annual Cambridge Energy Research Associates forum.

Wind power recently accounted for about 45 percent of the off-peak electricity load in Spain, briefly providing nearly 11,000 megawatts of the 25,000 megawatts being used at the time. Spain, which narrowly trails Germany as Europe's biggest wind power producer, had about 16,000 megawatts of wind capacity installed as of Dec. 31. That's twice the approximately 8,000 megawatts of capacity that Texas recorded as of the end of 2008. Thursday afternoon, those wind farms were generating about 3,000 megawatts of power, or about 10 percent of the power being used at the time on the state's largest electrical grid, the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT.

Although Spain's wind power makes up a much larger share of the national generating capacity, it also has "a lot of experience managing intermittent power," Coutinho said, and Texas ERCOT should be able to do the same.

This year, the Public Utility Commission of Texas approved about $5 billion worth of new power-transmission projects to bring wind power from West Texas and the Panhandle to urban consumers. Those projects are expected to take five years to complete, after which there should be enough transmission capacity to carry all the expected wind power generated. Today, those wind farms are curtailed roughly every other day by transmission constraints.

While the current financial crisis has curtailed investment in wind power, the growing certainty of U.S. legislation putting a cost on carbon emissions should keep wind power growing, other speakers said.

"On a risk-to-return, wind can compete with other businesses," said Darrell Thorson, vice president of wind development at BP Alternative Energy, an arm of British Petroleum. Although wind has lower profits than other energy options, it also entails less risk because it is less susceptible to volatile fuel prices and carbon taxes, Thorson said.


Source: http://www.energycurrent.co...

FEB 13 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/19109-wind-power-must-be-managed-to-ensure-electric-supply
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