First Conference on Weather, Climate, and the New Energy Economy
8th Users Forum on Weather and Climate Impacts


Integrating renewable energy into the North American power grid: realities, challenges and opportunities

Mark L. Ahlstrom, WindLogics Inc., St. Paul, MN

The large-scale integration of wind and solar energy into the power grid poses serious challenges. To maintain reliability and stability of the power system, the amount of generation must be kept closely matched to the currently required load. The forecast of load, while not perfect, can usually be kept to within a few percent of actual power required. Forecasting of the instantaneous power that will be delivered from wind or solar plants is much more challenging.

A general understanding of the practices, assumptions and operations of the power system operators is critical for those who are interested in wind and solar forecasting at all time scales. The various entities that play a part in operating the power system are constantly forecasting, planning and dispatching their power needs in all time scales ranging from seconds to years, with reliability issues being critical for the coming hours and the next day. Limitations of transmission capacity, operating constraints of various generators, power market rules and other factors all add complexity to the system.

This presentation will provide an understanding of challenges and realities of integrating variable renewable resources to the grid, with an emphasis on what this means for weather forecasting applications. The author has been personally involved in numerous wind integration studies and active as a speaker and participant with the Utility Wind Integration Group, various electric power entities (IEEE, CIGRE, NERC, etc.) and the American Wind Energy Association.

Recorded presentation

Joint Session 11, Issues on the Grid
Wednesday, 20 January 2010, 1:30 PM-2:30 PM, B202

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