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Western Wind and Solar Integration Study Phase 1 Research

The first phase of the Western Wind and Solar Integration Study investigated the benefits and challenges of integrating up to 35% wind and solar energy in the WestConnect subregion and, more broadly, the Western Interconnection, in 2017. The study showed it is operationally possible to accommodate 30% wind and 5% solar energy if utilities substantially increase their coordination of operations over wider geographic areas and schedule their generation and interchanges on an intra-hour basis.

Key Findings

  • The integration of 35% wind and solar energy into the electric power system will not require extensive infrastructure if changes are made to operational practices.

  • Wind and solar energy displace fossil fuels. A 35% penetration of solar and wind power would reduce fuel costs by 40% and carbon emissions by 25%–45%—the rough equivalent of taking 22–36 million cars off the road—compared to today's system.

  • Increasing the size of the geographic area over which the wind and solar resources are drawn substantially reduces variability.

  • Scheduling generation and interchanges subhourly reduces the need for fast reserves.

  • Using wind and solar forecasts in utility operations reduces operating costs by up to 14%.

  • Existing transmission capacity can be better used. This will reduce new transmission needs.

  • Demand response programs can provide flexibility that enables the electric power system to more easily integrate wind and solar—and may be cheaper than alternatives.

Phase 1 Publications

Wind Data

Solar Data

  • Solar Power Data for Integration Studies
    The Solar Power Data for Integration Studies consist of one year (2006) of 5-minute solar power and hourly day-ahead forecasts for approximately 6,000 simulated PV plants.