A new infographic by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) argues that “wind energy helps keep the lights on despite variable winds.”
As more wind turbines are installed, there is less variability in the power supply they collectively produce. “Even if one area with a wind farm is not very windy on a given day, another area may be, so their changes in output cancel each other out,” explains Senior Research Director Michael Goggin, citing research by the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
The changes in availability that do occur “are gradual and increasingly predictable,” he writes. “Contrast that with the unpredictable, abrupt failures of conventional power plants, which can lead to a huge drop in the energy supply. The cost of accommodating the potential failures of these plants is far greater than accommodating the gradual, predictable changes of wind farms.”
The result is that “large amounts of wind energy can be reliably added to the electricity supply without a need for energy storage,” since grid operators already know how to accommodate intermittent supply from large, conventional power plants.