Prof. Willett Kempton at a Danish offshore wind power site, Nysted.

Tying wind power into the grid

UD-led team receives grant to investigate interconnection and transmission of wind power

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10:36 a.m., Nov. 21, 2011--The wind power resource off the Atlantic Ocean is huge. But harnessing that power—moving it from the coast to the places where it’s needed—is an equally huge challenge.

A team led by Prof. Willett Kempton at the University of Delaware has received a $540,000 grant from the Department of Energy (DOE) to investigate some of the questions associated with connecting and transmitting that power.

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According to Kempton, one of the most important questions is whether there will be enough capacity in the transmission system.

“Many large U.S. cities are located on or near the East Coast, giving them close access to the power generated by offshore wind farms,” Kempton says. “But if we begin to seriously exploit the offshore resource, transmission upgrades may be needed.  And even before that point, new transmission systems may be desirable to help make the most of the offshore wind resource.”

DOE’s goal is to deploy 10 GW of offshore wind power in the near term and 54 GW in the intermediate term. “These goals are feasible,” Kempton says, “but interconnection, transmission, ancillary service markets and grid management must be planned for these deployment levels.”

The UD-led study will employ cutting-edge methods for determining wind power output and power system response to facilitate this planning.  The results will be valuable to grid operators, investors in electric power generation and transmission, offshore wind developers, and state and federal stakeholders. 

“We’ll provide all of these groups with science-based analysis of the system upgrades and grid management market strategies that are needed to ensure reliable and efficient operation of an electric system with large amounts of wind power,” says Kempton. 

The work will also yield an estimate of the amount of offshore wind power that can be integrated into the electric power system of industrial partner PJM Interconnection from Mid-Atlantic wind resources. 

“The bottom line is that the best power resource in the world is only as good as our ability to get it to the end user,” Kempton says.

About the Grant

The grant was one of 41 DOE awards in 20 states totaling $43 million. 

According to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, offshore wind is an abundant resource in the U.S. that remains untapped. 

“Through these awards, the Department of Energy is developing the critical technology and knowledge base to responsibly develop this resource, enhance our energy security, and create new clean energy jobs,” Chu said.

About the research team

In addition to the University of Delaware and PJM Interconnection, the major project participants include Princeton University (Prof. Warren Powell), Atlantic Grid Development and Stanford University (Michael Dvorak). 

Article by Diane Kukich

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