As interest in renewable energy continues to grow in Alberta and around the world, electric system operators in Canada and the United States are addressing the challenge of how to integrate significant amounts of wind, solar, and other forms of variable generation into electricity grids while ensuring system reliability.
In Alberta, there is currently 497 megawatts (MW) of wind energy connected to the grid with plans to add significantly more in the years ahead. ("Variable" generation refers to generation that uses an uncontrollable fuel source like wind, solar, tidal, etc.
"The report identifies key recommendations that will serve as a roadmap for integrating large amounts of renewable energy into North America's future electric generation portfolio," said Warren Frost, Alberta Electric System Operator Vice President Operations and Reliability and chair of the taskforce that created the report.
The NERC special report "Accommodating High Levels of Variable Generation" was drafted by a committee of about 50 industry experts including representatives from grid operators, utilities, wind and solar manufacturers, trade associations and government authorities across North America.
The report calls for transmission additions and reinforcements, enhanced forecasting techniques for variable generation, and access to flexible grid resources including customer participation in targeted demand management, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and large-scale electricity storage to help reliably integrate variable resources to electricity systems.
"We're proud of working collaboratively with wind developers and other stakeholders to integrate wind into the Alberta grid," added Frost. "Being involved in this NERC effort is part of the AESO's commitment to seeking and applying best industry practices at home, and in turn, sharing our learnings with the North American electricity industry."