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Southwest Power Pool (SPP) - Moving from Coal to Wind - Update

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Wind replacing coal - great to see. Earlier this year I wrote an article which showed full year 2019 fuel share for generation on the SPP grid. In that note, I speculated that 2020 might be the year when Wind generation passes coal on the SPP grid to become the No 1  source of electricity.

SPP recently released their Spring 2020 quarterly report so we now have six months of data to look at:

For the first 6 months of 2020 Wind has been the No 1 source of electricity on the SPP grid.

The summer quarter is usually the worst quarter for wind - so coal has not lost yet. Let's see how the full year turns out.

Meanwhile - Wind Capacity is growing steadily on the SPP grid.

Wind capacity in the footprint continues to grow steadily year-over-year, with nameplate wind capacity increasing from a monthly average of 17,725 MW in spring 2018 to 22,695 MW in spring 2020.

with more installations  planned before year-end. How high can wind go on the SPP grid?

SPP currently has 24 GW of installed wind capacity, a figure it expects to grow to 27 GW by the end of the year.

Joe Deely's picture

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Aug 6, 2020 9:17 pm GMT

The summer quarter is usually the worst quarter for wind - so coal has not lost yet. Let's see how the full year turns out.

When the year's over, I'd love to see this 'race' animated as an actual horse race, with announcer voice over and all.

What's that? KeepItInTheGround is gaining ground, he's fighting off CoalIndustryIsDying, can he stay the course, they're in the home stretch now...!

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Aug 10, 2020 12:21 am GMT

The operational manuals of PJM, SPP, and other RTOs with significant renewable resources specify they must procure a 1% surplus of their daily forecast capacity, for all peak hours, to keep power and frequency reliability within 1% of system limits. The capacity is purchased to help match generation to second-to-second demand on the system, but is billed to ratepayers whether it's actually needed or not.

Below is a graph of Area Control Error (ACE) for Southwest Power Pool, for a one-hour period this afternoon after regulation has been applied. Units are in megawatts (MW). Though line power exceeds 100 MW for several minutes, the policy works - SPP's error is well within 1% of peak capacity today (49 GW).Nonetheless, 490 MW of dispatchable capacity had to be purchased on SPP for power and frequency regulation during peak hours today - and between 4-5 PM most of it was wasted.

Any idea how much money ratepayers are forced to pay just to accommodate renewable variability, and whether Lazard includes that cost in the LCOEs of solar and wind? Those costs (and those of battery storage) are peculiar to renewables, and thus should be borne by developers. Should they not?

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Aug 10, 2020 3:49 pm GMT

From Report:

During spring 2020, the average day-ahead energy price was $14.03/MWh, and the average real-time price was $12.58/MWh. These prices are down about 41 and 44 percent, respectively, from spring 2019 energy prices.

The April 2020 day-ahead price of $14.03/MWh and real-time price of $10.43/MWh are the lowest monthly average prices since the start of the Integrated Marketplace in March 2014.

Lower prices are typically more prevalent in the west-central part of the footprint due to abundant low-cost wind generation in that area.

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