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Full wind ahead for Nebraska

French fur traders first visited Nebraska in the 17th Century and the state was later explored by pioneers Lewis and Clark from 1804-1806. A few years later, Robert Stuart pioneered the Oregon Trail across Nebraska in 1812-1813 and the first permanent white settlement was established at Bellevue in 1823. Now a new report says Nebraska could obtain 40 per cent of its electricity from wind energy. PES examines the report and finds the new LB1048 legislation could help put the state at the vanguard of the US wind generation business …

The wind integration study, funded by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, examined how the power system would operate in scenarios in which 10, 20, and 40 per cent of the electricity was supplied by wind energy in Nebraska and the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) region, which includes all of Kansas and Oklahoma, most of Nebraska, and parts of New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi and Arkansas. A 40 per cent wind energy penetration is one of the highest levels studied thus far, in the US, or anywhere in the world for that matter. Major carbon emission reductions were found in all scenarios, with CO2 emissions dropping by more than 25 million tonnes per year in moving from the 10 per cent to the 40 per cent wind scenario.

The study also found the cost of operating the power system differently to accommodate wind energy was modest, although exact integration costs varied, depending on the methodology used to account for the costs. One method found costs ranging from $1.39 per megawatt-hour (MWh) of wind energy in the 10 per cent wind case up to $1.68 per MWh of wind energy in the 40 per cent case. Another method was applied only to the 10 and 20 per cent wind cases and found costs of $1.92/MWh in the 10 per cent case and $3.11 in the 20 per cent case, while a third found costs of $3.21/MWh in the 10 per cent case and $4.29/MWh in the 20 per cent case. A further method looked at the unlikely scenario that SPP customers would be assigned the cost of accommodating the variability of wind energy exported to other regions and found higher integration costs.

Apart from that final, improbable cost-distribution scenario, all of the methods found integration costs considerably below the costs calculated in other studies, which is particularly noteworthy because of the high wind penetrations examined in this study. “This study corroborates what we’ve learned from around a dozen other wind integration studies and tens of thousands of hours of real-world grid operating experience. Wind energy is a very effective tool for reducing carbon emissions and large amounts of wind energy can be reliably integrated on to the grid at low cost,” said AWEA’s Senior Vice President for Public Policy, Rob Gramlich.


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