Whim of the wind

The problems of wind described below can be solved with storage technology. As wind and solar power are used more the need for storage becomes even more urgent.  In Texas:

The wind blows hardest before the sun comes up, when people aren’t using much power. It tends to die down during the afternoon – especially in the summer – just when people demand more juice….

In February, wind in West Texas died unexpectedly, leaving ERCOT scrambling to get backup natural gas plants online to meet power demand. The scare prompted ERCOT to upgrade its wind forecasting system. Source:http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/DN-wind_06bus.ART0.State.Edition1.4e033eb.html

In Oregon the problem was too much wind.

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – Heavier than expected winds last week raised a rare problem for the Northwest elecrical grid–the threat of too much power.

Power managers say they have some fixing to do.

A wind surge last Monday afternoon surpassed levels forecast by operators of Oregon’s burgeoning wind-farm industry, sending more power into the regional grid.

The Bonneville Power Association is responsible for adjusting hydropower generation to accommodate the power from wind turbines so the system isn’t overloaded.

It realized that it could no longer handle the surge without increasing spills of water through hydroelectric dams to levels dangerous to fish. Spilling the water keeps it from the hydropower generators.


Storage becomes the compelling solution to greater use of wind and solar.

Technology optimists say that wide-scale energy storage will change the face of the transmission grid and make wind and solar power more compelling economically.

In this scenario, utilities store electricity made from renewable sources or produced during off-peak times. Then, when demand for electricity peaks in the middle of the day, they could draw from the stored-up charge.

This "peak shaving" practice avoids the need to build new power plants to meet growing demand. Utilities could also idle dirty and expensive "peaking plants," which are only turned on during times of high demand, such as very hot summer days when air conditioners max out the load.


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