The recently completed Midwest Wind Integration Study shows that, under certain conditions, wind power could account for up to one-fourth of the delivered energy in an electrical utility’s resource portfolio without sacrificing reliability, incurring only minor costs for absorbing the wind energy — good news for those in the composites industry who have staked a sizable claim in the wind energy sector.
Commissioned by the Minnesota legislature in 2005 to evaluate reliability and other impacts of higher levels of wind generation, the independent study was carried out by energy research firm EnerNex Corp. (Knoxville, Tenn.) and atmospheric modeling and analysis provider WindLogics (St. Paul, Minn.). The study found that, if wind farms were to produce 25 percent of the energy delivered to all Minnesota customers (roughly equivalent to that provided in the U.S. today by nuclear power or natural gas and hydropower combined), the total integration cost would be less than one-half cent ($0.0045) per kWh of wind generation.
“This study is groundbreaking in its examination of the highest level of wind energy penetration ever undertaken in an authoritative U.S. power system study,” says Utility Wind Integration Group (UWIG, Reston, Va.) executive director J. Charles Smith. UWIG brings together utilities interested in wind farm development. “Denmark and several other regions in Europe have already achieved such high levels of wind energy use,” he points out, noting that the study’s “conclusion is clear: Under good system conditions, such as those in the MISO service territory, wind energy can be readily integrated into the utility system.”