An analysis by the US Department of Energy (DOE)’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) indicates that shifting to 20% wind energy by 2024 is possible.
The two-and-a-half year study modelled various scenarios of the effects of future penetration of wind power on the Eastern Interconnect electricity network.
The Eastern Interconnect currently supplies just over 70% of the US population with power.
The Eastern Wind Integration and Transmission Study (EWITS) concludes that transmission upgrades and operational changes could enable a substantial amount of new wind capacity, from either onshore wind farms in the Midwest or potential offshore installations on the East coast.
“Twenty percent wind is an ambitious goal, but this study shows that there are multiple scenarios through which it can be achieved,” says David Corbus, the study project manager.
However, the necessary infrastructure upgrades and planning needs to start immediately, he adds.
Without major transmission upgrades, the potential of wind generation would be severely curtailed, says the report. And the investment required would only be a small fraction of total annual costs.
Improving the distribution network would also enable wind energy to be drawn from a much wider geographic area, which helps even out the variability of wind power and overall make it less expensive.
“Incorporating high amounts of wind power in the Eastern grid goes a long way towards clean power for the whole country,” says Corbus.
For further information:
Fresh wind for renewables in 2010 (7-Jan)
Wind becoming “significant” part of US energy mix, says report (20-Jul 2009)
Offshore wind could meet entire US electricity demand (9-Apr 2009)
Wind power could generate 20% of US electricity by 2030 (14-May 2008)
21 January 2010