AWEA: Gas Report Misunderstands U.S. Power System

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The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has criticized a report, titled ‘Firming Renewable Electric Power Generators,’ that was issued by ICF International for the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA).

The report states that natural-gas-fired generation is expected to be the key to providing firming generation capability necessary to back up increased renewable electric power generation.

In order to provide this increased natural-gas-fired generation to back up intermittent renewable sources of electricity firmly and reliably, improved coordination and considerable investment will be required, according to the study.

AWEA calls the report ‘meaningless’ due to flaws that overstate the impacts of wind energy.

‘This report assumes a fictional world that bears no relation to how real power systems operate and, as a result, vastly overstates the impact of variable resources like wind energy,’ says Denise Bode, CEO of AWEA.

The power system has always had large amounts of variability and uncertainty due to many factors, including when large electrical equipment is turned on and off, weather changes, and large conventional power plants experience sudden outages due to mechanical or electrical failures, says Michael Goggin, manager of transmission policy for AWEA.

‘The report fails to understand that all sources of variability and uncertainty are integrated together on the grid, many of them canceling each other out,’ he explains. ‘Much of the time, downward changes in wind output are being canceled out by downward changes in electricity demand, and vice versa. Deviations in the output of conventional generators also cancel out opposite changes in wind output. Attempting to 'firm' wind by holding it constant will be counterproductive in many cases by increasing the variability that grid operators have to deal with.’

Goggin goes on to say that infrastructure investments and operating changes proposed in the report are changes that would be needed anyway, even in the absence of wind energy.

SOURCE: American Wind Energy Association

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