Guest Editorial | IEEE Power & Energy Magazine
IEEE Power & Energy Society

Guest Editorial

Wind Integration

Much has changed in two years

Looking back two years to the last issue of IEEE Power & Energy Magazine devoted to utility wind integration issues, much has changed and much has stayed the same. In the middle of 2009, the United States was experiencing its best year ever in terms of wind plant installation, setting a new record of 10,000 MW installed. The installation rate took a nose dive in 2010, falling in half to 5,000 MW, in the midst of an economic recession, declining demand, and low natural gas prices. Projections for 2011 are somewhat better than 2010, but not as good as 2009.

China at the Forefront

At the same time that the United States had its best year ever in 2009, China more than doubled its installation rate from the previous year to install nearly 14,000 MW, setting a new record that it then proceeded to surpass in 2010 by installing in excess of 16,000 MW of wind generation. In 2010, China became the world leader in installed capacity with over 42,000 MW of wind generation, compared to 40,000 MW in the United States. While the crystal ball is not crystal clear, annual outlooks for the next few years look like 5–8 GW per year for the United States and around 15 GW per year for China. China has assumed the position of leader in annual and cumulative installed wind capacity in the world but not without its share of problems, which will be described in the China article in this issue.

European Leaders

Germany and Spain are the European leaders with 27 GW and 20 GW total installed wind capacity, respectively, accounting for over half of the European installed wind capacity of 86 GW, of which slightly less than 10 GW was installed in 2010. This installation rate is expected to be maintained for the next few years, with increasing emphasis on offshore. As for annual wind energy penetration leaders in 2010, as a percentage of load energy served, we have West Denmark at 22%, Portugal at 17%, Spain at 16%, Ireland at 10.5%, and Germany at 9%. It is expected that in the 2013–2015 period, Asia will surpass Europe as the leader in installed capacity, with approximately 175 GW compared to 145 GW. North America is projected to reach 95 GW by the end of 2015. For those of you who would like to dig into these numbers in more detail, check out the “Global Wind Report—Annual Market Update 2010,” prepared by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), which can be found I think it is safe to say that wind power has come of age and is here to stay.

Transmission Is an Issue

So yes, much has changed in the last two years, but much has remained the same. The area that I would focus on to describe “the much that has remained the same” is transmission. I had the opportunity to participate in a wind integration workshop in China with the Chinese utility industry and wind turbine manufacturers and project developers late last year. I also participated in the European Wind Energy Council (EWEC) annual meeting in Brussels this year and the UWIG/ workshop on market design and operation with renewables in Denmark in June, so I have some first-hand information and impressions to report.

Transmission is an issue everywhere. Whether it be transmission planning; siting, permitting, and routing; or cost allocation, building transmission is not easy. In this country we are struggling, but making progress, on all three fronts. But we are hobbled by the fact that there is no shared national vision of the future electric power grid, where we are going to get the clean energy of the future needed to sustain our economy, or how we are going to get that energy to where it is needed. Without a shared vision, there is no clear and consistent long-term national policy to get us there. And if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will do!

We are currently engaged in a classical conflict between state’s rights and federal responsibilities over transmission line approval and siting, a typical sort of conflict in a federal system. In the meantime, we are left with voluntary regional structures to get transmission planned, approved, and built, which is not all bad. Regional planning activities in the organized markets and Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) have resulted in substantial progress in the last few years, with the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) lines in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the policy-driven projects in the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), the Integrated Transmission Plan and Highway/Byway Cost Allocation process in the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), and the contentious Multi-Value Project (MVP) process in the Midwest Independent System Operator (MISO), to name a few, all moving the ball forward.

The completion of the Eastern Wind Integration and Transmission Study (EWITS, available at ), Wiser and Bolinger report that one of the reasons for the recent decline in capacity factors of new U.S. installations is the curtailment of wind energy due to congestion on transmission, particularly in Texas, and another is that the best wind sites near transmission have already been developed.

Many of the transmission issues in North America are common with Europe and China as well, although the details may be different. The need for new transmission to reach remote resource areas, relieve congestion on the existing system, and enable aggregation over broad areas and transactions between areas are common themes in the three fastest growing wind energy markets in the world. In all three areas we find tensions between national (or transnational in Europe), regional, and local interests in determining the need for and siting of transmission lines, while cost allocation is more of a European and U.S. issue as are debates about whether transmission is a facilitator for markets or a competitor with alternative distributed generation and demand management solutions. Europe has a unique focus on cross-border interconnections to enable a well-functioning European electricity market and the need for offshore networks to enable significant growth in offshore wind power.

Transmission access and interconnection is a problem in China, as it is everywhere, and maybe more so. China seems to have a greater challenge in getting agreement and coordination between the wind industry and the grid companies. At the beginning of 2011, it was reported that 25% of the installed wind capacity was not yet interconnected to the grid, waiting for transmission. With the rapid expansion of the domestic turbine manufacturing industry, China has had its share of quality problems, which are now being addressed. In the rush to development, inadequate attention has been paid to grid code issues of reactive power support and low voltage ride-through, which are now receiving much-needed attention.

The inability to solve the transmission problem will jeopardize the ability to achieve renewable energy goals and will drive up the cost to reliably integrate these new resources into the energy delivery systems everywhere. The engineering profession stands ready to solve the technical problems associated with the integration of very large amounts of renewable energy into the electric system, but we still need the stable, long-term policy framework to enable it to be done.

In This Issue

And this brings us to the specific articles in this special issue of the magazine devoted to large-scale wind integration. We have seven articles for this issue, led and coauthored by some of the leading wind integration practitioners from around the world. We are particularly pleased to have an article giving an overview of the status and outlook for wind integration in China, which is a first for this issue. We take a look at what is going on inside of IEEE, where wind development and integration have risen to the top of the agenda within the technical societies, along with the smart grid. We provide the very popular update on the high penetration European countries of Denmark, Portugal, Ireland, Spain, and Germany, including the new activity on offshore network planning. The work of the North American Electric Reliability Corp (NERC) Integrating Variable Generation Task Force (IVGTF) is featured in one article and an update on wind turbine and wind plant models and grid codes in another. No story would be complete without an update on the brave new world of transmission planning and, last but not least, what’s happening in the quickly changing world of wind forecasting and market operations.

Leading off this issue is the update on IEEE wind-related activities from a team led by Dick Piwko of GE Energy. Dick serves as the chair of the IEEE Wind Power Coordinating Committee (WPCC) and provides an overview of a broad range of activities, with a focus on the very active work of the Wind and Solar Plant Collector System Design Working Group of the Subcommittee on Integration of Renewable Energy into Transmission and Distribution Grids of the T&D Committee. It is impressive to see how the wind work inside of PES has expanded since the WPCC was formed in 2005.

Next is the China status report, led by Liping Jiang, vice president of the State Grid Energy Research Institute, assisted by a diverse and competent team from across the industry spectrum. The article covers many aspects of the current situation in China, including the policy drivers and regulatory framework, interconnection and integration issues, transmission status and plans, turbine technology, and wind forecasting and system dispatch.

China is followed by Europe, with the current status of wind integration and power system and market operation in five of the highest wind penetration countries in Europe: Denmark, Portugal, Ireland, Spain, and Germany. The lead author is Hannele Holttinen of VTT in Finland. Hannele also serves as the chair of the International Energy Agency (IEA) Wind Annex Task 25 work, an international collaboration on the experience with large amounts of wind on power systems around the world. Hannele is assisted by an able team of coauthors from across Europe.

Next is a very informative article on what’s happening in transmission planning across the country, in an article led by Dale Osborn of MISO. Dale is assisted by an able team of coauthors from many of the major RTOs and ISOs across the United States. This article builds on previous articles on this topic in the prior special issues, and focuses on the major ISO/RTO and interconnection-wide transmission planning efforts in the Eastern Interconnection, WECC, and ERCOT.

The work of the NERC Interconnection of Variable Generation Task Force (IVGTF) is featured next. This activity represents an unprecedented level of cooperation among the more traditional NERC generation and transmission entities, and the wind and solar developers, equipment manufacturers, wind forecasters, and industry consultants. This article is led by Mark Lauby of NERC, assisted by an able team of industry experts reflecting a diverse spectrum of the industry and actively involved in carrying out the work.

The next article digs down a little deeper into some of the recommendations made in the IVGTF Phase 1 work. The article covers the topics of wind turbine and plant models and model validation, grid code requirements, and corresponding equipment capabilities. The team of authors is led by Bob Zavadil of Enernex, with an able team of wind industry manufacturers and consultants. It deals with some of the hot-button issues of inertial response, frequency response, low voltage ride through, and active and reactive power control, among others.

And last but not least, we have a fascinating update on the status and role of wind forecasting in power system operations from a team led by Mark Ahlstrom, the CEO of WindLogics. He is assisted by a remarkable cross section of industry experts from the ISO/RTO community, some smaller BAs, the government R&D community, and the wind forecasting community. Here you will find the advances in wind forecasting made in the two years since our last issue on this topic and an up-to-date review of the role that wind forecasting is playing in power system operations and how market rules are changing to better manage higher wind penetrations.

A Word of Thanks

I feel very fortunate to be able to work with this remarkable group of people every day of the week, along with my coeditor Brian Parsons of NREL, and to work on such a diverse range of important and exciting topics. They have put a lot of effort into this issue for you, and I hope you appreciate it and enjoy it! And a word of thanks to UWIG, its board of directors and its members, for their support of this activity. And a special word of thanks to Mel Olken, IEEE Power & Energy Magazine editor, a friend and colleague, who gave us the opportunity to serve as the guest editors of this special issue of the magazine, and the encouragement and support necessary to make it happen!

In This Issue

Feature Articles

Departments & Columns

Upcoming Issue Themes

  • May/June 2020
    Principles for Rate Design
  • July/August 2020
  • September/October 2020
  • November/December 2020
    Distributed Resource Integration