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Utility-scale Wind Power: Impacts of Increased Penetration

Lawrence Pitt, Gerrit van Kooten, Murray Love and Ned Djilali

No 2005-01, Working Papers from University of Victoria, Department of Economics, Resource Economics and Policy Analysis Research Group

Abstract: Intermittent renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, run-of-river hydro, tidal streams and wave fluxes present interesting challenges when exploited in the production of electricity, which is then integrated into existing and future grids. We focus on wind energy systems because they have an emerging presence, with new installed capacity approaching 8 GW annually. We survey many studies and compile estimates of regulation, load following and unit commitment impacts on utility generating assets with increasing wind penetration. Reliability (system reserve), observed capacity factors and the effective capacity (ability to displace existing generation assets) of wind energy systems are discussed. A simple energy balance model and some results from utility-scale simulations illustrate the existence of a law of diminishing returns with respect to increasing wind penetration when measured by wind’s effective capacity, fuel displacement or CO2 abatement. A role for energy storage is clearly identified. Finally, the scale of wind energy systems is shown to be large for significant energy production and preliminary evidence is reviewed showing that extraction of energy from the atmospheric boundary layer by such systems, when penetration levels are significant, may have potential environmental impacts.

JEL-codes: Q40 Q55 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 33 pages
Date: 2005-06
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