IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - November/December 2015 - 112

in my view

Rob Gramlich

wind's getting better
continual improvement is critical for future needs

W

Wind energy has come a
long way. as documented in the U.s.
department of energy's (doe's) recent
Wind Vision report, wind technology
has improved in cost, reliability services, forecasting, and wildlife impact mitigation, to name a few areas. The cost
reductions have been the most dramatic,
in excess of a 66% decline over the last
six years, 48% ahead of the aggressive
cost-reduction pathway envisioned in
the doe's 2008 report, "20% Wind
energy by 2030." in a virtuous circle,
greater deployment has driven technological improvements, more domestic
manufacturing, and economies of scale
that reduce costs, in turn driving further
deployment, and so on. We are learning
by doing, and there is a lot of improvement yet to come.
i recently had the opportunity to sit
down with five members of the emerging Leaders Program of the american
Wind energy association. These young
engineers described how they have created new processes in their companies
to reduce turbine costs. one such idea
involved putting colored stickers on
turbine parts to direct delivery to the
appropriate location. high tech? no.
creative and effective? absolutely. all
of them had more ideas for improvement than they had time to implement,
and their senior managers said the same
thing. The Wind Vision report envisions
significant continual improvement in
wind energy's productivity and cost.
Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/MPE.2015.2458759
Date of publication: 20 October 2015

112

ieee power & energy magazine

Progress on grid integration has also
been dramatic. as each biennial review of
wind and solar integration demonstrates,
we are learning more about how to integrate variable resources. grid operators in
Texas and the midwest now fully incorporate wind plants into their power system
dispatch, and thanks to their efficient grid
operations, each has found the impact of
more than 10,000 mW of wind on their
need for operating reserves to be little to
none. The mean absolute error for Xcel's colorado wind forecasts declined nearly 40% from
2009 to 2013. during
some hours, Xcel now
uses its wind plants' fast
active power control to
meet a significant share
of the system's need for
dispatchable power, enabling wind, at times,
to provide over 60% of
total generation. Thanks
to their sophisticated
power electronics, wind turbines are now
capable of providing grid reliability services as well as or better than conventional
power plants.
With states and utilities set to reduce
carbon pollution under the U.s. environmental Protection agency's clean
Power Plan, this improvement couldn't
have come at a better time. as energy
secretary moniz said at WindPoWer
2015, "We believe very much the central role of wind in meeting our climate
challenges, and we're very committed
in this direction." Wind is ready to meet

that role. The energy information administration recently released a report
showing that wind energy consistently
emerged as the lowest-cost option for reducing carbon emissions across a range
of scenarios, with more than 100 gW of
additional wind over the next ten years
providing more than half of the optimal
compliance mix for the clean Power
Plan. The U.s. power sector is the largest
source of carbon emissions in the country (a country that emits
among the most in the
world), and greater use
of wind energy is some
of the lowest-hanging
fruit for reducing emissions. Whatever power
source can support reliability and low rates will
be needed in spades, and
wind energy is ready to
serve that need.
continual improvement in cost and performance is critical for
utilities, their end-use customers, and
the wind industry's survival. The clean
Power Plan and other ways to address
carbon will take a number of years to
be fully binding on the industry. it is
not clear if targeted incentives, like the
renewable energy production tax credit
(PTc), will be around over the long
term. There is a strong case to be made
that they should, but the wind industry
cannot depend on the U.s. congress
to come through every year or two.

Wind turbines
are now capable
of providing
grid reliability
services as well
as or better than
conventional
power plants.

(continued on p. 110)
november/december 2015



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