Wind

Real Green Costs

Valuing risk reduction for renewables and DSM.

Resource planners are faced with complex choices for developing cost-effective and robust energy supply portfolios. These choices are complicated by uncertainties inherent in future fuel and emissions costs. In the summer of 2008, retail energy providers with supply primarily from wind generation had a substantial cost advantage over gas-fired generation. In the summer of 2009, though, gas prices plummeted in the wake of the recession. Reversing the previous trend, this shift causes wind generation to appear more costly relative to gas-fired generation.

Not So Fast

Proving market performance requires detailed analysis.

Now that fuel prices have fallen recently from the highs seen in 2008 and wholesale electricity prices also have decreased, it might be tempting to attribute the lower prices to the restructuring of the wholesale electricity markets. Unfortunately, it’s a little more complicated than that.

The Wind Watcher

The search for the ultimate wind forecasting model got a boost at the end of 2008 when DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory began collaborating with a Portuguese research institute, INESC Porto, to develop a new platform for making such predictions.

Wooing the Western Wind

How a move to bring power markets to the Great Plains has uncovered a crisis in grid planning.

They call the United States the “Saudi Arabia of Wind.” That’s due in large part to the huge potential of the Great Plains. But there’s a hole in the metaphor. Wind power development in some parts of the prairie is falling short of expectations.

Riding on The Wind

Plug-in hybrids usher a new era for wind power.

Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) open a new intersection between wind power and transportation.

Quixotic Commission?

When Spanish utility giant Iberdrola announced last June that it would acquire Maine-based Energy East for $4.5 billion, it signaled a potential surge in major foreign owners buying into U.S. utility companies. Fortnightly spoke with Pedro Azagra, director of corporate development for Iberdrola S.A. in Bilbao, Spain, to get an update on the acquisition, and his impression of U.S. merger-approval processes.

What Happened in ERCOT

Voltage sag shows value of accurate wind forecasting.

Variability is a well-known characteristic of windpower, and system operators know they must plan for changes in wind generation over the course of a day. But when those plans fall short, voltage levels can drop quickly, forcing grid operators to dispatch resources to make up the difference—either by shedding load or bringing reserve generation online.

That’s exactly what happened in ERCOT on an evening in February, when a combination of events left the system operator short on power and long on demand (See Figure 1).

Windpower's Warning

ERCOT’s February emergency suggests storage capacity is needed to support renewables.

ERCOT in February averted a blackout that could have become a disastrous defining moment for the windpower industry. This near miss can teach utilities and system operators valuable lessons about integrating variable energy sources into the power grid.

Seeing Green

Wind deals promise brisk business for years to come.

(May 2008) Senators were voting on legislation to extend the renewable production tax credit (PTC) as this issue of Fortnightly went to press. But with federal tax support for windpower in a perennial state of limbo, is the current rate of growth sustainable? To find out, Fortnightly spoke with Andrew Redinger, managing director and head of the utility and alternative energy group at KeyBanc Capital Markets.

Green Heroes

Utilities can transform the world’s energy economy.

Perceval’s sagas are largely forgotten today, but at least one of them serves as a useful metaphor for an industry seeking the proverbial Holy Grail of clean-energy technology—specifically, the tale of Perceval and the Fisher King.