Business & Finance

U.S. report recommends more study of wind-hydro integration

A draft report proposes further analysis, including a possible wind-hydropower demonstration project, is needed to determine whether wind energy could be economically integrated with hydropower generation to meet the Western Area Power Administration’s power supply obligations.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 directed the U.S. Department of Energy, in coordination with the secretaries of the Army and Interior, to conduct the study. (HNN 10/2/07) Congress said the study should determine the cost and feasibility of developing a demonstration project that uses wind energy generated on Indian tribal lands, and federal hydropower generated by the Corps of Engineers at Missouri River dams, to supply firming power to WAPA.

The draft report includes an economic and engineering evaluation of whether a combined wind and hydropower system could reduce reservoir fluctuations, enhance efficient and reliable energy production, and provide flexibility in management of the Missouri River.

The report said the addition of wind generation is not expected to result in reduced reservoir fluctuations or to provide additional flexibility in the management of the Missouri River reservoir system. In fact, it said, addition of wind generation could complicate management of the mainstem reservoir system.

Even so, the draft said a case could be made for a demonstration project. It recommended funds be made available to complete refinement of economics. However, WAPA expressed concern a demonstration project could pose an economic risk to WAPA ratepayers.

It suggested mitigating economic risk by limiting the project’s nameplate capacity to no more than 50 MW. It also recommended costs of the project, beyond what WAPA normally would have paid for like energy, should not be borne by WAPA ratepayers.

If eventually found to be feasible, the demonstration project would be carried out by WAPA, in partnership with an Indian tribal government or tribal energy resource development organization, and WAPA customers.

Stanley Consultants Inc., under contract with WAPA, directed preparation of the draft report. Ventyx Energy, 3TIER, and EnerNex Corp. also contributed to the document. The final study report is to be completed in March.

The draft is available from WAPA’s Internet site under www.wapa.gov/ugp/powermarketing/windhydro/default.htm. WAPA is accepting written comments until Feb. 13.