|June Javelosa reports that renewable energy met a major milestone in the U.S., with wind powering over 50% of the U.S. electric demand....that is, for only a matter of a few minutes that is. The Southwest Power Pool (SPP), a grid operator responsible for powering 14 states, notes that while it may have been brief, the fact that the U.S. hit the mark even for a short period of time is notable, since it was the first a North American power grid to achieve the feat.|
According to their report, wind power reached 52.1% last February, beating the previous record of 49.2%. Ten years ago, they thought hitting even a 25% wind-penetration level for a few minutes along our system would be extremely challenging, SPP Vice President of Operations Bruce Rew said in a statement, and that any more than that would pose serious threats to the power-grid reliability.
Even still, wind has been a growing part of the SPP generation mix ... it supplied 15% of its electricity last year, and is currently the third biggest generation source for the operator...after nuclear and natural gas.
They were able able to manage wind generation more effectively than other, smaller systems can because That have a huge pool of energy resources to draw from the market, Rew points out. With a footprint as broad as theirs, even if the wind stops blowing in the upper Great Plains, they can deploy energy resources waiting in the Midwest and Southwest to make up any sudden deficits along the power grid.
Cost of electricity is still often cited as one of the biggest barriers. Wind energy requires a significant initial investment for its infrastructure. Because it also relies on wind to create energy, it may not be as cost competitive as traditional power sources like coal or gas, especially in less windy areas.
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