United States

United States

Penetration at its limit

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No more wind turbines should be installed on Hawaii's Big Island -- unless they are advanced variable speed wind turbines, or unless there is automatic generation control with additional spinning reserve. Wind penetration is so high on the small island grid that it cannot otherwise cope with more wind power. This is the conclusion of a recently released report by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the R&D group of US utilities.

The Hawaii Electric Light Co (HELCO) has 12.5 MW of installed wind capacity on the island in total, but it has a peak demand of only 145 MW and a minimum load of 54 MW. Wind projects on the island are 37 Mitsubishi turbines at South Point, the Kahua Ranch wind farm of 198 Jacobs 17.5 kW turbines, and three Carter 25 kW turbines, part of a pumped hydro facility also at Kahua Ranch.

So-called advanced wind turbines were also shown to have substantial advantages over conventional induction generators which require reactive power support and transmission capacitor bank expansion. In a parallel study, EPRI and HELCO have also been examining the use of batteries to provide system regulation.

They concluded that batteries can provide power support, spinning reserve and accommodate mismatches between load generation caused by fluctuating wind farm output.

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