- The Southwest Power Pool continues to crack records for wind power penetration, reporting it served 54.22% of load with wind energy at 12:55 a.m. on March 19. But the grid operator may be bumping into transmission constraints when it comes to finding new customers.
- SPP's installed wind generation grew by 30% last year, rising from 12 GW to more than 16 GW, but according to RTO Insider, there isn't room for much more on the system without new demand.
- In April 2016, SPP briefly served 49% of its load with wind capacity. This year the grid operator has already topped that figure several times.
Southwest Power Pool has already set at least a couple of new wind generation records this year, and more projects are queued up to come online. But RTO Insider reports there may not be demand for that energy, absent new markets or consumers.
Part of the problem is wind's high level of variability and seasonality. Generation can spike and fall dramatically, making it difficult to match with demand.
Two days ago, SPP said it set a new wind-penetration record of 54.22%, close to 1 a.m. on March 19. Then, the resource was serving 12,078 MW of the 22,277 MW total load. One day in February, SPP served 52.1% of its load with the renewable generation. But just about a year ago, SPP reached 39.1%, with peak wind output at about 9,000 MW and load around 23,000.
As recently as the early 2000s, its generating fleet included less than 400 MW of wind. But SPP has approved the construction of more than $10 billion in high-voltage transmission infrastructure over the last decade, helping bring wind power from projects in the Midwest.
Integrating renewable resources into wholesale markets has created problems in other regions. Wind power in Texas has put gas plants under pressure. As fuel-free wind is dispatched first, it has driven down energy prices, cutting revenues for independent power producers.