Wind could generate as much as 24% of New England’s power needs by 2020, but integration of that magnitude would require major transmission upgrades, as well as increased operating reserves and regulation services, ISO New England officials said in a presentation Wednesday.
That level of wind would also require accurate intra-day and day-ahead wind power forecasts to ensure efficient unit commitment and market operation, said John Norden, director of operations for the grid operator.
Norden and Gordon van Welie, president and CEO of ISO-NE, spoke during a presentation on the New England Wind Integration Study, which is set to be released this week.
Reporting the results of the $750,000 study that GE Energy Applications & Systems Engineering conducted for ISO-NE, the officials said New England has abundant wind energy potential, especially in the northern part of the region and offshore. The two-year wind integration study developed a detailed onshore and offshore New England wind model.
New England has only about 270 MW of wind on the system now, but more than 2,815 MW of wind projects are currently in the grid operator’s queue. The ISO has 32,000 MW of total supply.
Collectively the six states in the ISO-NE footprint have a goal of meeting 30% of New England’s projected total electric energy demand through renewables and energy efficiency measures by 2020. Currently 14% of demand is being met through renewables, including hydropower.
“GE has said if you’re going to gear up to do this on a large scale, you better do it properly or else you’re going to put yourself in a very awkward position,” van Welie said.
The ISO chief said transmission upgrades needed to bring large amounts of wind online would likely cost in the tens of billions of dollars as population and electricity demand are concentrated along the coast in central and southern New England.
Wind’s intermittent nature would require increased reserves, ensuring that there are other generation options when the wind isn’t blowing, as well as regulation services, under which resources respond to signals sent every four seconds to match minute-to-minute changes in the New England load.
Van Welie said the ISO will refine conceptual transmission overlays and conduct detailed transmission planning studies if levels of wind integration contemplated in this study are pursued.
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