Today’s wind turbines are more cost-effective and reliable than ever
- Wind energy technology continues to improve, lowering the cost of wind turbines while increasing performance. For example, average rotor sizes have doubled since the 1980s, with much longer and lighter blades sweeping larger areas, capturing much more energy. Turbines have taller towers, more reliable drive trains and performance-optimizing control systems.
- 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.
- With wind forecasting, changes in wind energy output are factored into grid operations much like variations in demand – both change over a matter of 30 minutes or even hours (not a matter of seconds, such as when fossil-fuelled or nuclear plants experience an unexpected outage, or a tree falls on a transmission line).
- It is a myth that equal amounts of additional power, such as natural gas or hydro generation, must be built solely to manage the variability of wind energy generation. Independent of wind energy, a certain level of reserve power is maintained to manage existing grid variability, and is needed for all types of electricity generation on the grid. The incremental reserve power required to manage the additional variability from wind represents only a small fraction of the total amount of wind energy added to the grid.
Did You Know?
- The 2016 Pan-Canadian Wind Integration Study found that the Canadian power system, with adequate transmission reinforcements and additional regulating reserves, will not have any significant operational issues operating with 20 per cent or 35 per cent of its energy provided by wind generation. Canada’s provinces and territories would benefit in many ways by increasing wind energy development.
- Jurisdictions across the globe (and Prince Edward Island in Canada) already have wind energy providing more than 25 per cent of power to the grid and even higher.
- In fact, Denmark now produces more than 44 per cent of its electricity from wind turbines on an annual basis; in the U.S., four states now generate 30 per cent or more of their electricity using wind energy.
Wind energy and energy storage
- Does wind energy need to be stored to increase its contribution to our electricity grids? What types of storage can be used? These are common questions asked of the wind energy industry.
- The Wind Energy Institute of Canada and Natural Resources Canada are conducting a study of energy storage systems on Prince Edward Island to store wind energy for peak demand periods while also ensuring voltage levels on the grid, reducing distribution and transmission losses, and providing back-up power at substations.
- Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator has a number of energy storage projects underway with a target of 50 megawatts of storage that could increase the reliability and flexibility of Ontario’s power system while accommodating much more renewable energy generation.
- The U.S. has already added more than 60,000 megawatts of wind power to its grid without adding commercial-scale storage. Its website discusses how well wind energy is integrated today with other forms of generation such as hydro and natural gas, and energy storage options for the future.
- UVIG’s Variable Generation Integration Library provides an overview and summary of wind integration studies from North America and around the world.
- CanWEA’s Pan-Canadian Wind Integration Study assesses the operational and economic implications of integrating large amounts of wind energy into the Canadian electricity system.
- Electric Utilities and Wind Power – A Good Mix Fact Sheet by the American Wind Energy Association.