New Transmission Lines Reduce Wind Power Curtailment in Northern and Central Texas

power lines for wind energyTexas is already experiencing the flow of more wind power following the installation of new transmission lines under the Competitive Renewal Energy Zones Project (CREZ). The majority of the project was completed in December 2013. The new lines are bringing wind power from West Texas and Panhandle to areas of North and Central Texas.

Previously, there was so much wind power flowing into the grid that it had to be curtailed. This action was necessary to avoid an overload of the transmission system.

The curtailment of the power resulted in negative prices for the resource. The wind power generators were in essence paying energy providers to accept the excess power. Now, with the more than three thousand miles of transmission lines, the playing field is once again leveled.

The new transmission lines will cost $7 billion dollars and will be financed by Texas taxpayers. The cost will be reflected in power bills, which is expected to be hiked by a few dollars.

Smart Grid Under Construction for Germany’s Electric Vehicle Fleet

Germany charging stationGerman researchers are currently using a combination of renewable energy to create a smart grid for the largest electric car charging station in Germany.  There are just over 2000 charging stations in the country with a ration of 2 electric cars to one station but the Fraunhofer Institute Center Stuttgart IZS has the capacity to charge 30 vehicles at once.

Fraunhofer Institute Center Stuttgart IZS is Germany’s largest car charging station and utilizes approximately 340 kilowatts of energy when all the charging spots are in use.  For this to be possible the energy system has to meet smart charging and load management requirements.  As a result scientists and engineers are working on a design to produce a micro smart grid to offset the power demand on the current grid system.

Avoiding short circuits during peak hours and maximizing operational efficiency are few of the factors that are being taken into consideration in the design of this smart grid.  This aim of the smart grid being designed is to supply energy to electric vehicles charging centers by  generating electricity exclusively from renewable energy sources.  The investment cost for electric vehicle charging center owners are quite low and will offer a more reliable supply of energy.

State Officials Angered At Florida Woman’s Utility-Free Lifestyle

off-gridSome things are better left unsaid, and a Florida resident living off the grid learned this the hard way.  Robin Speronis had a rude awakening following her interview on a local radio station last November in which she boasted about her utility- free- lifestyle.  On the same day of the interview, attempts were made by a code enforcement officer to evict her.

Ms. Speronis has been generating her free electricity from her solar panels for approximately two years and uses rain water instead of running water.  Her interview might have educated others how to make the best of renewable sources of energy but her gloating cost her some dollars.  This is as a Special Magistrate made a ruling that she should connect to the city’s water system although they aren’t able to force her to use it.  No ruling was made against her in generating her own electricity.

New Study Reveals Wind Energy Can Improve Reliability Of The Grid

blade pitchOne of the main disadvantages of wind energy is that because it is intermittent, it isn’t a reliable source for the grid.  As a result the grid has to rely on fossil fuel plants for back up when there is no wind energy.  A recent study has however revealed that this renewable energy source has the potential to economically improve the reliability of power.  The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has provided an analysis that shows that by changing output levels, wind farms could regulate the amount of power supplied to the grid. This could be achieved if wind farm operators lower their output levels by slightly adjusting the pitch of the blades.

Despite these findings, many wind farm operators may be reluctant to curtail their power output because they make more money based on the number of megawatts produced.  However, the study also revealed instances where more money can be earned by providing regulation services rather than energy services.

Power electronics have already been developed by wind turbine manufacturers to enable the wind farm operators to curtail power.  Power electronics have a fast reaction time, which means that they would make wind farms more viable than fossil fuel plants in terms of frequency regulation.  It may however be a while before wind farms able to provide regulation services to the grid.

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Is Cyber Security A Major Electricity Grid Concern?

US power gridCyber attacks on various institutions and resources have been ticking up in the last few years.  However, there are many people who believe that next big frontier to be attacked will be the energy sector.  Every power grid in the country is vulnerable to cyber attacks, and it is up to the government and private energy companies to figure how to best protect against cyber-terrorism that could shut down power grids all across the country.

There are already enough problems with the country creating enough energy when weather conditions are not ideal.  Now, the threat of cyber attacks forcing entire power grids to shut down could help attackers to create ideal conditions where people are in peril due to the weather and a cyber attack shuts down the grid.  The effects of an attack like this has been described as potentially devastating for residents all across the country.