Jul 28 2018

Response: Update: Wind Energy Proposal and Coal Backlash in North Dakota (

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Original Post by Matthew Culley (2016): https://coastalenergyandenvironment.web.unc.edu/wp-admin/post.php?post=3912&action=edit

Matthew Culley, in his 2016 post about the proposed Glacier Ridge Wind Farm in Barnes County N.D., brought up a lot of interesting points regarding conflicts with a shift towards a wind-dominant power supply. Matthew introduced the project, described the immense (1000 GWh) wind resource available to North Dakota, and the state’s success in harnessing this resource. However, there was some concern among the state Public Service Commission that the intermittent nature of wind power would pose a threat to grid stability when contributing significant (30%) proportions of the states power. As renewable energy continues to improve and constitute larger and larger portions of our energy supply I think this is a really important point. If we, at some point in the future, want the majority of our energy to come from renewable sources, we need to think about how we can overcome the intermittent issue. Matthew gave 3 solutions to this problem and I think that an update on the project itself and the feasibility of these stability measures would be useful.


     The Glacier Ridge project, which was jeopardized by the permitting process and grid stability concerns at the time of Matthew’s post, was approved for its second and final phase in July of 2017. In light of the project’s progress, measures combating the instability of this energy resource are more important now than ever. As such, an update on the status of the wind-forecasting systems highlighted in Matthews post would be a practical contribution to this discussion.

According to a new paper published in May of 2018, authored by Notton et al., “forecasting should be the first response to manage the variable nature of solar or wind energy production, before the more costly strategies of energy storage and demand response systems would be put in place”. According to the review, current state-of-the-art forecasts are likely to achieve most of the economic benefits possible and that the interest for forecasting is increasing even for small or medium ISRES (Intermittent and Stochastic Renewable Energy Sources). This indicates that regardless of the scale of installations, forecasting, rather than storage, is the most feasible option. Says Notton et al., “Energy storage development needs specific operating strategies for an optimal management which cannot be developed without a good knowledge of the future input and output energies”. In summary, the forecasting technologies discussed by Matthew in his post continue to improve and further analysis suggests that they are our best bet when future energy costs and demand are unknown.

Figure: Average annual operating cost savings versus wind forecast improvements, shown for 3%, 10%, 14%, and 24% WECC wind energy penetrations (https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy11osti/50814.pdf)

Citations: Notton, G. et al. (2018, May). Intermittent and stochastic character of renewable energy sources: Consequences, cost of intermittence and benefit of forecasting. Retrieved July 27, 2018, from https://www-sciencedirect-com.libproxy.lib.unc.edu/science/article/pii/S1364032118300327#bib72

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