Cross-border output 'can overcome wind variability'

CANADA: Combining the output of wind farms in Washington State’s Columbia River Gorge with generation from projects on neighbouring Vancouver Island can help smooth the variability of wind on the grid, according to a recently released study.

The study compared wind patterns at four sites in Washington and one at the northern tip of Vancouver Island by analysing measurements taken every 10 minutes during 2007.

It found wind generation on the island is strongest when production in Washington is its lowest and vice versa. It also found wind output at the Vancouver Island site well correlated to demand in the US Pacific Northwest, generating at capacity factors of 47% to 66% during the region’s top 500 load hours in 2007.

Paul Manson of Sea Breeze Power, developer of the Vancouver Island site said the results show that combining wind output from both regions can "result in a renewable electricity supply with far higher reliability and availability than if simply utilized as individual and local sources of energy."

The results are useful in determining how to integrate increasing amounts of wind power, says Elliot Mainzer, executive vice president of corporate strategy for the Bonneville Power Administration. The company markets wholesale power in the Pacific Northwest and operates the bulk of its high-voltage transmission lines.

He added: "Given the increasing size and frequency of wind ramps in the Lower Columbia region, this study provides some very useful insights about the potential benefits of expanding the geographical diversity of wind development in the Pacific Northwest."

The study comes at a time when the government of British Columbia is looking to the US as a potential export market for wind and other renewable energy generation in the province. It also bolsters Sea Breeze’s efforts to develop a 500 kV underwater transmission link running from the southern tip of Vancouver Island to Port Angeles in Washington.

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