The records keep falling: more new highs in wind energy output

Yet again, wind power set energy generation and penetration records across the United States late last week. From the ERCOT grid in Texas north to the MISO grid in the Midwest, these achievements build on the record setting trends reported by multiple grid operators in recent months.

The primary Texas grid operator, ERCOT, reached a new record penetration level for wind of 45.14 percent at one point on February 18. On the same day, ERCOT hit an instantaneous peak wind output of 14,023 megawatts (MW), up from its previous high of 13,883 MW in December, setting the new U.S. record for wind for a single system operator. ERCOT has continued to hold its lead in wind output over MISO since November, after the power systems set competing records earlier last fall.

Outside of ERCOT, the grid operators for the Plains and Midwest states, SPP and MISO, also reported generation records last week, and all three eclipsed new gigawatt (GW) thresholds for output (14 GW, 13 GW and 10 GW respectively).

February’s wind output records are summarized in the map below. Additional highlights include:

  • The day after ERCOT’s record, the Midwest grid operator (MISO) hit a peak wind generation of 13,084 MW, surpassing its previous peak of 12,720 MW on January 28.
  • The same day, the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) also set its record for wind penetration at 43.9 percent on February 19. This was SPP’s third record this month. Two days prior, on Feb 17, SPP set a new wind generation peak of 10,439 MW, breaking into the 10 GW of instantaneous output club, and reached a wind penetration of 43.3 percent.
  • On February 18, MISO, ERCOT and SPP simultaneously reached wind outputs above 10 GW.
  • MISO, ERCOT, and SPP all sustained high levels of wind for the entire day on February 19. MISO and ERCOT both sustained average hourly wind output above 11 GW all day, while SPP stayed above 8,400 MW all day. Combined, these three grid operators stayed above 30 GW all day.
Regional Wind Records 2.22.2016
Wind energy output records.

These record wind outputs by grid operators across the country demonstrate that large amounts of wind energy can be reliably integrated into the grid. Thanks to technological advances, wind plants are able to meet or succeed the reliability functions of conventional generation, allowing renewable resources to play an even greater role in the U.S. energy mix.

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