What happens if the wind isn’t blowing? How can we maintain reliability of the system and make wind a realistic option?
Wind turbines begin to turn when the wind speed reaches approximately 13 km/h and will shut down when the winds become too strong, usually around 90 km/h. With this operating range, wind turbines produce electricity approximately 85 per cent of the time. The system operator, such as the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), may adjust individual wind farm output in order to maintain system reliability.
The level of wind energy that can be reliably integrated onto any given power system depends on a variety of factors such as market design, flexibility of existing infrastructure, capacity of interties with adjoining balancing areas, and that to the extent that such measures are undertaken, renewable energy can reliability and economically be used to meet our electricity needs.
Studies have shown that when a utility diversifies its power portfolio with the addition of wind energy, it can meet demands without reducing reliability. Operational experience in Europe and many parts of North America indicates that 10 per cent – and in many cases 20 per cent – of our electricity can be reliably supplied by wind energy with little changes to the existing infrastructure or market design. Large amounts of wind energy are already being reliably and cost-effectively integrated with the electricity grid; utilities around the world continue to recognize the value wind energy can play within a larger interconnected electrical transmission system. State-of-the-art wind forecasting techniques allow utilities and grid operators to anticipate and plan for increases or decreases in wind energy output to maintain system reliability.
You may be interested in consulting the Utility Variable Energy Integration Group website at www.variablegen.org for further information on studies and models related to wind integration in Canada and around the world.
The WindFacts Team”