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Sev
06-07-2010, 06:06 AM
http://www.goodcleantech.com/2010/06/35_percent_of_western_states_p.php

According to the Western Wind and Solar Integration Study conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the vision of tapping into wind and solar energy to produce 35 percent of the Western States' electricity by 2017 is feasible. In fact, such a feat could be accomplished without the need to build additional infrastructures. Based on the findings, the key to achieve that goal is to change key points in current operational practices.

"If key changes can be made to standard operating procedures, our research shows that large amounts of wind and solar can be incorporated onto the grid without a lot of backup generation," said Dr. Debra Lew, NREL project manager for the study. "When you coordinate the operations between utilities across a large geographic area, you decrease the effect of the variability of wind and solar energy sources, mitigating the unpredictability of Mother Nature."

The study suggests that even though winds are intermittent and sunlight does not perpetually shine, they're no cause of concern on whether the renewable energy sources can provide the expected percentage of energy allotted for them. To be able to achieve the goal, the WestConnect group of utilities in the mountain and southwest states would have to be able to coordinate operations over a wider coverage area. They would need to be able to schedule the specific amount of power they can deliver within a period of time so that generators could adjust that power based on the current weather conditions. In the future, if such a change in operational procedures could be put into effect, the study says there would even be no need for back-up gas-burning power plants.