Even better, there’s plenty of room for wind’s costs to continue their sharp decline, according to a new report from Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory (LBNL) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
Wind’s previous cost declines were largely driven by technological advances that allow modern turbines to reach stronger, steadier winds. That lets them generate more electricity at a lower cost. Improvements in domestic manufacturing and economies of scale also made it cheaper to build new wind turbines. While there are still gains to be made in these areas, operations expenditures (OpEx) present a huge opportunity for new gains and were the focus of NREL and LBNL’s new study.
Why OpEx matters
Operational expenditures (OpEx) represent a large and growing share of a wind farm’s levelized cost of energy (LCOE). According to the LBNL/NREL study, OpEx accounts for between 25 and 35 percent of a project’s overall levelized cost of energy (LCOE).
And here’s where the cost savings come in– the labs estimate a 9 percent decline in OpEx results in roughly 10 percent of the future decrease in the LCOE, on average. As a result, reducing OpEx is essential to achieving lower LCOE and making wind even more cost competitive.
For example, operations and maintenance (O&M) expenditures are included in OpEx, and O&M is where some of the most exciting, high tech advances are being made, like drone deployment, the use of big data, predictive analytics and artificial intelligence.
What did LBNL/NREL study find?
The data shows a prominent downward trend in all-in levelized lifetime OpEx. All sources were consistent in reporting that for projects built in the late 1990s, the lifetime OpEx average was about $80/kilowatt (kW) per year. But the anticipated lifetime OpEx for more recent projects fell to low-mid $40s/kW per year. So just like a laptop today costs less than one from the late 90’s, OpEx costs for a wind farm built today are less than one built 20 years ago.
There are a variety of factors that contribute to this decline. As America’s wind fleet grows, emerging economies of scale reduce costs. Further cost savings are a result of matured technology, more reliable components, and the growing demand for “full wrap” contracts, O&M agreements that include full coverage for equipment maintenance and repair.
What can a wind farm do with OpEx savings?
Lower OpEx costs are allowing wind farms to operate longer. Over time, turbines accumulate site-specific fatigue damage, the normal wear and tear associated with long-term equipment use. With better operations and management, site specific accumulated fatigue damage can in many cases become lower than design-certification fatigue damage, or wear and tear that comes from outdated design and technology. This makes the initial 20 year estimate of a turbine’s life obsolete. Improved technology, operations and management practice, and competitive pressures show that there’s an increased economic lifetime of 25 to 30 years.
The report’s authors concluded an OpEx-based learning rate of 9 percent over the 1998-2018 period, meaning that all-in OpEx in the U.S. has declined by 9 percent for each doubling of global wind capacity. This means that OpEx has also been a significant factor in reducing LCOE. The authors also find there’s ample room for continued OpEx reductions, which will further decrease wind’s already highly cost-competitive LCOE.
Enhancements on past mechanisms, greater economies of scale, additional research, and experience are expected to yield better component reliability, increased competition, and further standardization and application of technology for predictive maintenance. This is likely to drive OpEx lower. The authors report the learning-based OpEx estimates suggest continued OpEx reductions may contribute to 10 percent or more of the overall land-based wind LCOE reductions expected through 2030.
So an affordable energy source has room to grow even more affordable. That’s welcome news for everyone’s electric bills.
#AmericanWindWeek 2019 is right around the corner, August 11-17. Are you ready? #AmericanWindWeek is a critical tool that can help support your advocacy goals while growing U.S. wind power. Now is the time to plug in and engage on #AmericanWindWeek 2019!
How #AmericanWindWeek can help
#AmericanWindWeek 2019 serves as a springboard for continued advocacy, communications, and public support for wind energy. Despite the wind power’s phenomenal growth, many Americans, even some in communities that host wind farms and factories, don’t know much about it. #AmericanWindWeek is a chance to bring the wind community together– technicians, manufacturers, those benefiting from tax and land lease payments, and many more– to engage with the community and educate lawmakers.
“#AmericanWindWeek has been an ideal excuse for rallying support and driving local support around our industry’s work,” says Adam Renz, Manager of Business Development at Pattern Energy, and one of AWEA’s first wind week partners back in 2017. “Unlike other industry “holidays #AmericanWindWeek has provided us with a tangible week of celebration and a reason to bring our communities and champions together.”
#AmericanWindWeek 2018 highlights - YouTube
Lawmakers, awards and events
While wind has proven to be a competitive clean energy option, it wouldn’t be the booming industry it is today without stellar support from dedicated members of the United States Congress and state and local lawmakers.
#AmericanWindWeek has been an opportunity to educate lawmakers and to highlight the leadership that has paved the way for this growing industry. Last year, over 70 lawmakers participated in #AmericanWindWeek and learned how wind is powering opportunity for their constituents.
Jeff Danielson, AWEA’s new Central Region Director, is a former Iowa state senator, and as a former elected official, he shared what a big impact events like #AmericanWindWeek can have on lawmakers.
“As a former lawmaker, I cherished the opportunity to celebrate the successes of good public policy that opportunities like #AmericanWindWeek offer,” Jeff said. “While it’s understood that public service can be a thankless journey, it nice to pause and sing the praises of what’s working. To that end, wind power is opportunity and it works for America!”
This week is also an opportunity to highlight new wind energy customers, led by some of the world’s largest companies. Fortune 500 companies like Microsoft and AT&T have signed contracts for over 10,000 megawatts of wind energy to date, which is more than all of the wind built in Iowa, America’s number two wind state.
These companies also engaged in #AmericanWindWeek 2018 by attending events, engaging on social media using #AmericanWindWeek, and writing blogs about why wind works for their companies.
In 2018 the conversation boomed on social media with 53 million #AmericanWindWeek impressions, a 67 percent increase from 2017, and a total of 30 mayors and governors also declared proclamations that August 5-11, 2018 was #AmericanWindWeek. We’re expecting even more governors and mayors to declare proclamations in 2019, so stay tuned!
Thank you AWEA members
We want to thank you for making last year’s #AmericanWindWeek a successful national week of celebration and education, as AWEA members are the backbone of this special annual event. But more importantly, we want to thank you for the hard work you’ve done every day to construct and grow this American success story. Since last year, wind energy has continued to blow past the competition and power the country. The total number of employees in the wind industry increased to 114,000, over $1 billion was paid by the industry in state and local taxes and land lease payments, and a record number of Fortune 500 companies, cities, universities and utilities purchased wind energy in an effort to reach their sustainability goals.
Looking forward to #AmericanWindWeek 2019
This year, we’re looking to expand on that success and make #AmericanWindWeek the biggest and best it’s ever been, and you can help by attending/hosting a Wind Week event, engaging on social media with #AmericanWindWeek, reaching out to your lawmakers encouraging them to engage with #AmericanWindWeek, and educating your peers about the benefits of wind energy. AWEA member engagement is vital to the success of this week, and we’re here to answer any questions you might have about how you can help and engage with others.
Send us a message if you would like to engage in #AmericanWindWeek 2019. Let’s make August 11-17 the greatest week of 2019!
Wind is the cheapest source of new electric generating capacity
The fact is utilities and their regulators are buying renewable energy because it reduces electric bills for homes and businesses. Market prices for renewable energy purchase contracts confirm wind and solar energy are often the lowest cost option these days, as USA Today noted earlier this week. Wind power purchase prices averaged $18.91/megawatt hour (MWh) in 2017, while preliminary data indicate that solar prices averaged $22.30/MWh in 2018. The utility Xcel Energy has indicated its recently announced wind projects have a levelized price of $15-25/MWh. These purchase prices include the federal tax credit for renewable energy, which further reduces the cost of renewable energy to consumers.
However, even without incentives, in many parts of the country wind is still the cheapest source of new electric generation according to sources like investment firm Lazard Inc. For example, researchers from the University of Texas Austin’s Energy Institute created an interactive map showing the most affordable energy sources across the country. Check out all the green—that’s where wind is cheapest.
Via University of Texas Austin’s Energy Institute
Renewable energy increasingly saves consumers money even without the federal incentives, which are currently being phased out. The following table uses real-world performance data to calculate the unsubsidized levelized cost for newly installed generation.
Notably, the preceding table uses actual capacity factor data for new power plants. As the IER authors correctly noted in their analysis, the actual levelized cost for new gas and new coal generation is dramatically higher than DOE estimates because DOE uses maximum theoretical output levels for fossil power plants instead of real-world performance data.
A mistake-filled report
Once renewable cost errors (discussed below) are corrected, IER’s own analysis shows new wind and solar are also competitive with existing fossil and nuclear generation. This confirms a wide variety of analysis, much of it conducted by coal power plant owners. Regardless, many existing coal and nuclear plants are also reaching the ends of their useful lives, and require hundreds of millions of dollars in repairs and upgrades if they are to continue operating.
True to the “garbage in, garbage out” maxim, the IER authors reach the wrong conclusions because their assumed costs for wind and solar energy are three to four times higher than all estimates by independent experts, as shown below.
How did the authors get the answer so wrong? Part of the problem is that they use old data for the productivity of wind and solar plants. The authors use the average productivity of the entire fleet of wind and solar plants that are currently operating, which misses that new plants are far more productive than those installed even a few years ago. This error adds $10.50/MWh to wind costs and $7.70/MWh to solar costs. In reality, solar capacity factors have increased 23 percent since 2010, while wind capacity factors are up 41 percent since 2009. Partially as a result, wind’s costs have fallen by 69 percent since 2009.
The report then compounds that error by inventing other cost adders. Most notably, the report incorrectly claims that adding renewable generation requires the addition of conventional generation. First of all, almost all U.S. regions already have excess power plant capacity. More importantly, adding wind or solar to the power system always provides positive capacity value to the power system to help meet electricity demand, and therefore reduces and never increases the need for conventional power plant capacity. Due to that error alone, the report incorrectly adds an “imposed cost” of $23.6 per MWh to wind generation and $21/MWh to solar generation.
In addition, the study lowballs estimates for the contribution of wind and solar to meeting peak capacity needs. The authors give solar credit for only 12.9 percent of its installed capacity, while many grid operators have shown solar’s contribution to be roughly five times higher. They similarly understate wind’s contribution by a factor of nearly three. For inexplicable reasons, the authors then add costly conventional capacity and generation to make up the difference, even though it is not needed.
IER’s convoluted “imposed cost” method is not necessary, as the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) has already developed a method that accurately accounts for the different energy and capacity value of all energy sources, fully accounting for differences in their dispatchability and time of production. That method shows that the value of wind energy is only $4.60/MWh, or about 12 percent lower than that of more dispatchable gas combined cycle generation, while solar generation is actually $2/MWh more valuable than gas combined cycle generation.
The cost of reliably integrating large conventional power plants is actually larger than that of renewable resources, as data from Texas indicate. That means accurately accounting for integration costs and other costs imposed on the system would actually indicate a net benefit from increasing use of renewable energy. Large conventional power plants can fail instantly and without warning, and therefore require more expensive, faster-acting operating reserves than the slower-acting reserves used to accommodate gradual and predictable changes in wind and solar output. Regardless, in Texas both costs are well under $1/MWh, while the Midwest regional grid operator has noted that the impact of wind generation on its need for fast-acting reserves is “little to none.”
ACCE and IER’s study should serve as a warning sign for analysis based on faulty assumptions and dated information. If you put garbage in, you’ll get garbage out, and the end result won’t tell you much about the world that exists in reality.
With the calendar flipping to June the dog days of summer will be here before we know it. That means it’s getting hot out there, and wind workers need to take precautions to maintain a safe working environment.
According to OSHA, many people are exposed to heat on the job, in both indoor and outdoor heat environments. Operations involving high air temperatures, radiant heat sources (e.g., sunlight, hot exhaust), high humidity, direct physical contact with hot objects, or strenuous physical activities have a high potential for causing heat-related illness.
Heavy sweating, dizziness, thirst and muscle spasms are just a few of the warning signs that you are experiencing a heat-related illness. When working in hot temperatures, it’s important to focus on prevention strategies:
Do start your workday hydrated. Start your hydration the night before.
Do use the buddy system. Act quickly if a co-worker shows signs of illness.
Don’t ignore the warning signs.
Don’t think heat-related illness won’t happen to you!
The AWEA EHS O&M Working Group created three awareness materials to help workers best understand the signs of heat-related illnesses and how to prevent them. Available online, materials include a reference card, training module, and a heat awareness and tracking plan. These materials will help you understand all the signs of heat-related illness, how to prevent them, and what to do if you are experiencing any of the symptoms.
This morning Amy Farrell, AWEA’s Senior Vice President for Government & Public Affairs, gave the opening remarks at Politico’s Reinventing American Energy event. She focused on the need to update and expand America’s electric grid to meet 21st century needs, and explained why transmission expansion is at the heart of this effort. You can watch a stream of the event here, and Amy’s full remarks are below:
Thanks to Politico for convening an event on this very timely and important topic – modernizing America’s electric power infrastructure for a clean energy future.
AWEA is proud to sponsor this event.
A critical component of this modernization is expanding and improving our electric grid.
No matter your end goal— driving down electricity costs, improving resiliency and reliability, reducing carbon emissions, or making the U.S. more secure and economically competitive—modernizing the grid and expanding transmission is a common denominator.
This is a no-regrets down payment for future energy policies and future economic growth.
However, much of our power grid infrastructure – the transmission lines, towers, transformers and substation equipment – is outdated and long overdue for renovation.
Some of our transmission lines are over 100 years old. Think about that—we’re charging iPhones and powering smart TVs with infrastructure built when large portions of the country still didn’t have access to the electricity needed for a simple light bulb.
In fact, the American Society of Civil Engineers recently ranked America’s power grid infrastructure an unacceptable “D+.”
This neglect doesn’t position the U.S. to succeed in the competitive global economy.
And we are asking more than ever from our outdated system.
America’s loosely connected regional power grids aren’t designed for the needs of a clean, efficient and increasingly electrified modern economy.
Imagine if the U.S. had a dozen or so separate internets that couldn’t communicate with each other.
In much the same way, the U.S. electric system is mostly balkanized into regional systems that are insufficiently connected to efficiently and cost-effectively share resources or support each other.
To ensure access to reliable, resilient and affordable power, we need a system that meets today’s needs.
Building out the country’s transmission infrastructure – strengthening existing transmission and adding transmission to connect our regional transmission grids – is at the heart of this undertaking.
Let’s start with the goal of providing low-cost, reliable power to consumers.
But large quantities of low-cost U.S. wind and increasingly affordable utility-scale solar resources can’t be harnessed due to inadequate transmission.
Connecting America’s world-class, low-cost renewable energy resources to the grid will save consumers money and have the added benefit of providing good jobs and economic investment in rural communities and a drought and flood proof cash crop for farmers.
But this isn’t just a story about renewables. Building more transmission will make the entire power supply more flexible and reliable. It will allow grid operators to more efficiently move power from where it’s generated to the towns, cities and manufacturing hubs where electricity demand is highest.
Grid improvements, led by transmission build, will also strengthen our energy and national security.
A robust and well-connected transmission system adds resilience. It gives grid operators access to a wider range of resources and operational flexibility to bounce back from extreme weather and unexpected power plant outages. It also makes the U.S. less susceptible to supply disruptions – you can’t stop the wind from blowing or the sun from shining.
The added affordability, reliability and resilience that will follow grid improvements provides the U.S. an economic boost as well.
Low-cost, reliable electricity gives businesses an important competitive advantage in the global marketplace.
Fortunately, we can make needed transmission improvements in a cost-effective way. Regions that have invested in transmission expansion over the last decade have seen extensive net benefits from more reliable and affordable electricity, yielding billions of dollars in consumer savings.
Dozens of studies from across the country show that transmission line investments pay for themselves many times over, and real-world examples bear this out:
SPP found transmission upgrades it installed between 2012 and 2014 created over $16 billion in gross savings – 3.5 times greater than the cost of the transmission upgrades.
MISO found that recent transmission investments will provide $12 to $53 billion in net benefits over the next 20 to 40 years, or between $250 and $1,000 for each person currently served by MISO. The benefits are 2.2 to 3.4 times greater than the cost of the transmission.
Transmission expansion also alleviates congestion, which creates inefficiencies that cost consumers approximately $6 billion a year.
But the vision of a high-capacity transmission network is already being realized in other countries like China, India, and across Europe. The U.S. needs to move now to remain competitive.
The federal government has recognized the need for changes to our grid and provided tools like EPAct 05 and FERC Order 1000.
However, it’s clear lawmakers’ intent has not been realized and the implementation of these programs has left much to be desired.
We need additional reforms to make things like FERC Order 1000 and the EPAct 05 work better.
For instance, even though Congress recognized the need for a federal role in the siting of projects in the national interest, in the past decade DOE has not established a single corridor and FERC has never used its backstop siting authority.
In contrast, for gas pipeline siting there is a strong federal role, and over the last decade, the U.S. has added gas pipeline capacity nearly 10 times faster than electricity transmission capacity.
And while FERC tried to ensure in Order No. 1000 that interregional solutions are built, hardly any have made it through the process—largely due to language in Order No. 1000 that has not worked in practice and needs to be reformed to ensure the most cost-effective transmission infrastructure gets built.
Fortunately, there appears to be bipartisan agreement that America’s infrastructure needs investment and modernization, and priority issues from both sides of the aisle would benefit from this investment.
There’s tremendous enthusiasm on the left to rapidly expand the clean energy economy, but this can only be done cost-effectively if our infrastructure makes it possible for the lowest-cost utility-scale wind and solar resources to meet electricity demand. We need an updated grid and expand transmission to make that happen.
On the right, we see tremendous enthusiasm to leverage private investment, strengthen infrastructure and make the us more competitive in the global economy. Once again, updating the grid and expanding transmission is essential.
Although the Administration missed a huge opportunity by not addressing transmission in its recent infrastructure Executive Order, it has shown a commitment to removing regulatory barriers that inhibit private investment.
In the case of transmission expansion, there is private investment waiting to move – the struggle to get projects built is excessive regulatory red tape —we just need to remove the roadblocks.
So we have willing investors, common interests across parties, shared understanding of the benefits – what’s next?
AWEA is releasing a new report today, Grid Vision: The Electric Highway to a 21st Century Economy – you all have copies of the executive summary on your seats.
This report provides evidence and data to help make this happen.
Our report presents the growing body of research that demonstrates the value of transmission investments for consumers, economic development, grid reliability and resilience, national security, the integration of cleaner energy technologies, and more.
Centered around the “Three Ps” of Planning, Paying and Permitting, the paper also supplies federal and state officials with a policy roadmap needed to realize the benefits of an expanded, improved and interconnected transmission system.
Planning – Transmission planning should look further into the future, proactively incorporate expected future generation additions, and simultaneously account for the multiple benefits of transmission – economic, reliability, public policy. Planners should work together across states and regions to evaluate interregional transmission solutions, coupled with effective means to pay for those upgrades.
Paying – The most important policy solution is broad transmission cost allocation to reflect the broadly distributed benefits of transmission, particularly for high-capacity and interregional transmission.
Permitting – We need to simplify the siting of interstate transmission lines. Policies should incentivize states to work together on siting and deploy federal authority where necessary for projects that serve the national interest.
Again – the good news is a boost in transmission infrastructure doesn’t need billions in government dollars – there is plenty of private capital waiting in the wings.
We need the government to remove regulatory barriers blocking that investment and the consumer, economic and public policy benefits that come with it.
Federal and state legislators and regulators all have a role to play in advocating for and implementing these policies to promote cost-effective transmission expansion.
It starts with DOE designating corridors, with FERC providing the critical role of using its backstop siting authority in such areas if transmission siting is becoming an impediment.
And FERC can pursue reforms to ensure Order No. 1000 lives up to its promise of enabling the most cost-effective transmission solutions make it to the finish line in the planning and cost allocation process.
We all seem to agree on the challenge. We have an obvious solution and billions in private investment ready to invest.
We don’t have to wait—let’s make a smart down payment on our future by updating and expanding America’s electric grid.
Have you checked off any of your professional development goals for the year? Believe it or not, we are nearly halfway through 2019! Long days, short years, right? If you’re anything like the rest of us, you’ve probably thought about attending a conference, getting that certification or knocking out those CLE hours. There’s no better time than now. And you’re in luck – I know a place.
And sure, this conference and expo provides numerous opportunities to meet new people, discover innovative products and services, connect with customers face-to-face, and finalize large-scale projects. The business development benefits at WINDPOWER speak for themselves, but there is exponential value in the diversity of the educational programing offered this year. One of the easiest ways to grow in your current role (or to prepare for the next) is to power your experience with continued learning. Think of WINDPOWER as the most efficient way to pick up important industry updates and hone your networking skills by gaining new contacts, all while participating in the larger discussion around the future of clean power.
With more than 60 sessions featuring 200+ energy experts, executives, and thought-leaders, the educational program is designed to provide timely learning opportunities for everyone. Whether you’re an analyst, wind tech, project manager, corporate communications lead, VP of business development, or asset manager, you’ll find something to help you get a little closer to your professional development goals at WINDPOWER.
Here’s an abbreviated list of the sessions by segment to give you an idea of the kinds of topics and speakers you’ll be exposed to:
For those in siting, asset management & environmental compliance:
*On Thursday, May 23, the educational program and exhibition has content and activities dedicated to those working on the field in wind operations. If you or someone you know is a wind technician or a veteran working in wind, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to redeem your complimentary pass to Thursday’s activities.
WINDPOWER 2019 is in just two weeks! That gives you 14 days to get your schedule together to ensure a successful event.
Every year CEOs tell us WINDPOWER is the most important four days in their business cycle. There is no other time that you can meet with every customer, every supplier and every partner in one location. Large AWEA members report back about the multiple hundreds of business meetings they conduct during the show. And, it is not only wind business on their schedule. We hear “as much solar business as wind gets done at WINDPOWER.” After all, we are Wind+!
So what do these companies say you should do to have such business development success?
Do your homework: Make sure you know who will be there. The WINDPOWER registrant list is updated in real time, so make sure you check it out to develop your target list. The event app is officially live! Once registered you can use the networking tool to contact other attendees and set up meetings prior to the event. Download the AWEA Events app from the app store.
Make sure your key targets attend: Successful marketers don’t wait for customers to come to them. They reach out directly. INVITE folks you want to meet with. We have a special promotion this year– send your key customers the promo code PLUS19 a special discounted rate. The guests you share this with will appreciate the invite– you’ll build goodwill and likely get a meeting onsite!
Divide and conquer: One person can’t do it alone. As you develop your target list, make sure you have the right team on site to staff meetings you are scheduling. And your customers will be seeking you out too. You will get overlapping requests from potential customers so don’t put yourself in a position where you have to choose.
Think like your customers: What sessions on the conference program might attract the companies you what to meet with? Are your prospective customers exhibiting? Think creatively about how you can seek out the prospects you want to meet.
Take advantage of the social events: The Opening Reception, exhibit hall happy hours, and opening breakfasts are all great opportunities to expand your network as well as seek out specific individuals you want to meet.
Do your post event work: You are not finished when you leave the show. WINDPOWER gives you the opportunities for face time and personal meetings with your customers and prospects. But you have to maintain these relationships. Connect on LinkedIn and make sure to follow up. And be sure to reach out before future AWEA events.
Do you have business development tips to share? Share on social media using #WINDPOWER2019. We will spotlight creative ideas in future posts.
AWEA’s newly-released first quarter market report shows just how busy American wind power is—a record 39,000 megawatts (MW) of new wind projects are now under construction or in advanced development. That’s about as much capacity as all the projects built to date in Texas, Iowa and California—the country’s number one, two and four wind states, respectively.
The first quarter report also shows an industry experiencing healthy growth, as the development pipeline is 17 percent larger than it was at this time last year thanks to strong demand from utilities and corporate buyers. Developers reported 6,156 MW of new wind project activity in the first quarter of 2019 alone. Likewise, power purchasers signed 2,717 MW of wind power purchase agreements during the first quarter, the second highest quarterly amount on record.
During the year’s first three months, Iowa, Michigan and Illinois led the way for new wind installations coming online. In total, the U.S. now has 97,223 MW of installed capacity, enough to power over 30 million U.S. homes.
Where is the wind development pipeline getting built? Across much of the country—it’s comprised of 199 project phases spread across 32 states, including six offshore wind projects. Texas unsurprisingly leads the way with over 8,500 MW of new wind under construction or in advanced development, followed by Wyoming (4,780 MW), New Mexico (2,635 MW), Iowa (2,623 MW) and South Dakota (2,127 MW). A total of 14 states now have over 1,000 MW of wind capacity in the pipeline, and eight states are on track to more than double their installed wind capacity.
All this activity means jobs for U.S. workers in farming and factory towns across the country. Over 114,000 Americans spread across all 50 states now work in wind, and their ranks will have to continue expanding as we turn the development pipeline into reality.
Wind Power Opens Doors for Nebraska Families - YouTube
This past weekend, wind power set a new record in the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), the regional grid that covers most of the midwestern United States. On April 21, wind’s share of power generation reached 66.5 percent for the region. According to SPP, wind provided 14,063 megawatts (MW) of its 21,148 MW total load.
This was a huge feat for the wind fleet in SPP’s footprint, overshooting its previous record of 64 percent from earlier this year. While this was notable for wind power, it was also a moment of triumph for SPP, which continues to hold the record for wind penetration across all U.S. markets.
These records demonstrate that wind power can be reliability integrated on the grid. It’s times like these that prove out the words of Bruce Rew, VP of Operations for SPP. “Ten years ago we thought hitting even a 25 percent wind-penetration level would be extremely challenging,” Rew said. “Now we have the ability to reliably manage greater than 50 percent. It’s not even our ceiling. We continue to study even higher levels of renewable, variable generation as part of our plans to maintain a reliable and economic grid of the future…With a 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…”
Wind’s record as a share of the energy generation wasn’t the only milestone SPP hit over the weekend. Thanks to wind’s strong performance and other installed generating capacity like hydro and solar, renewables together set another record providing 70 percent of the SPP grid’s power.
These records come on the heels of a streak of wind records set in other regional transmission organizations (RTOs). ERCOT, the regional grid for Texas, recently broke their wind records, too. Back on January 19, ERCOT reported that wind produced 56.16 percent of the grid’s energy when the state’s wind fleet generated nearly 17.4 gigawatts (GW). SPP and ERCOT are not alone.
CAISO, MISO, ISO-NE, and PJM Interconnection all broke wind output or penetration records in the past 14 months. In February of 2018, CAISO, California’s regional grid serving the areas that were the epicenter of the 1980’s “wind rush,” broke its old record with notable 21 percent wind penetration.
Recent wind output and generation records in the RTOs. Click image for full resolution.
Just recently on March 15, wind set a new output record in MISO generating more than 16,317 MW of the grid’s power. This came only three months after wind set a new record accounting for 25 percent of the share of the generation.
These achievements underscore wind power’s ability to deliver affordable, reliable energy across the country. This is especially true when America’s wind resource is tapped and hooked up to a larger regional grid.
Hitting record levels of wind in the RTOs is just one of several positive industry trends. As the demand for affordable, low carbon energy increases, wind and other renewables will be called on more and more to meet demand. With investments in transmission and fair markets to compete in, this level of wind production in SPP shows that renewables are up for the challenge.
American wind power emerged from 2018 stronger than ever, now with the ability to power 30 million homes after eight percent capacity growth last year. The newly released U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report, Year Ending 2018 reveals U.S. wind power supports a record 114,000 jobs, over 500 domestic factories, and more than $1 billion a year in revenue for states and communities hosting wind farms. This growth is bringing economic development to all 50 states and farming and factory towns in need of new opportunity– wind is working hard for America!
Wind is also making our power system more reliable and affordable, and it pairs well with other future-oriented clean sources like solar, storage, and hydropower. Because Fortune 500 companies and utility customers are increasingly asking for combined products and services, we are thrilled to celebrate and explore the WINDPOWER 2019 theme, WIND +.
THE VISION OF WIND +
The vision behind this year’s theme is bringing together not just wind workers but stakeholders across other energy sectors, local communities, individual land owners, and corporate energy buyers. It’s up to us, the larger energy sector, to work together by collaborating and leading the way to the cleaner and more reliable power grid of the future.
MORE KNOWLEDGE SHARING ACROSS ENERGY SECTORS
This year’s program focuses on wind energy’s ability to thrive through innovation and collaboration while building alliances to propel the industry forward. A few sessions that incorporate our WIND + theme include:
The opening general session on “The Future Grid driven by Wind, Solar and Storage,”
“Innovating Offshore Wind Technology Leveraging Existing Offshore Energy Advances,”
“The Potential Wind + Storage Roadmap,” and
“Building the Lines to a Clean Energy Economy.”
Speakers include experts from BP, UL, Pattern, Siemens Gamesa, EDF Renewables, DNV GL, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, ERCOT, Goldwind, Vestas, EDPR, Ørsted, GE, TPI Composites, Enel, Shell, Apex, E.ON and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. You can view the full agenda here.
JOIN US IN THE ENERGY CAPITAL OF THE WORLD!
The wind industry was founded by visionaries and it continues to embody an innovative and entrepreneurial spirit. And the U.S. wind industry has always recognized the value of working together with partners who help drive our progress forward. I look forward to meeting you in Houston and taking the next step towards powering the future, together!