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Supplying Baseload Power and Reducing Transmission Requirements by Interconnecting Wind Farms

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  • 1 Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, California
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Abstract

Wind is the world’s fastest growing electric energy source. Because it is intermittent, though, wind is not used to supply baseload electric power today. Interconnecting wind farms through the transmission grid is a simple and effective way of reducing deliverable wind power swings caused by wind intermittency. As more farms are interconnected in an array, wind speed correlation among sites decreases and so does the probability that all sites experience the same wind regime at the same time. The array consequently behaves more and more similarly to a single farm with steady wind speed and thus steady deliverable wind power. In this study, benefits of interconnecting wind farms were evaluated for 19 sites, located in the midwestern United States, with annual average wind speeds at 80 m above ground, the hub height of modern wind turbines, greater than 6.9 m s−1 (class 3 or greater). It was found that an average of 33% and a maximum of 47% of yearly averaged wind power from interconnected farms can be used as reliable, baseload electric power. Equally significant, interconnecting multiple wind farms to a common point and then connecting that point to a far-away city can allow the long-distance portion of transmission capacity to be reduced, for example, by 20% with only a 1.6% loss of energy. Although most parameters, such as intermittency, improved less than linearly as the number of interconnected sites increased, no saturation of the benefits was found. Thus, the benefits of interconnection continue to increase with more and more interconnected sites.

Corresponding author address: Cristina L. Archer, Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institute of Washington, 260 Panama St., Stanford, CA 94305. Email: lozej@stanford.edu

Abstract

Wind is the world’s fastest growing electric energy source. Because it is intermittent, though, wind is not used to supply baseload electric power today. Interconnecting wind farms through the transmission grid is a simple and effective way of reducing deliverable wind power swings caused by wind intermittency. As more farms are interconnected in an array, wind speed correlation among sites decreases and so does the probability that all sites experience the same wind regime at the same time. The array consequently behaves more and more similarly to a single farm with steady wind speed and thus steady deliverable wind power. In this study, benefits of interconnecting wind farms were evaluated for 19 sites, located in the midwestern United States, with annual average wind speeds at 80 m above ground, the hub height of modern wind turbines, greater than 6.9 m s−1 (class 3 or greater). It was found that an average of 33% and a maximum of 47% of yearly averaged wind power from interconnected farms can be used as reliable, baseload electric power. Equally significant, interconnecting multiple wind farms to a common point and then connecting that point to a far-away city can allow the long-distance portion of transmission capacity to be reduced, for example, by 20% with only a 1.6% loss of energy. Although most parameters, such as intermittency, improved less than linearly as the number of interconnected sites increased, no saturation of the benefits was found. Thus, the benefits of interconnection continue to increase with more and more interconnected sites.

Corresponding author address: Cristina L. Archer, Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institute of Washington, 260 Panama St., Stanford, CA 94305. Email: lozej@stanford.edu

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