North American Electric Reliability Corp. stated that the planned expansion of solar and wind power by the Obama administration will definitely challenge the existing power grid. The company is not asking for a slowdown in the employment of renewable energy, but continued by saying that improvement in technology can help them reach the projected goal.
This NERC report is in response to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee bill that will require all energy utilities to deliver at least 20% of their total power from renewable sources by 2021. By the year 2012, utility companies must get 4% of their power from clean sources.
Other players in the power industry have positively received the NERC report. Denise Bode, CEO of American Wind Energy Association, stated that the report can very well be used as the road map for grid planning and operations changes required across America in the future.
On the other hand, Revis James, director of energy technology assessment at the Electric Power Research Institute, is questioning whether the utilities are moving fast or not. He is saying that not much is understood about the impact of renewable energy on the power grid. He also points out that the research and development in the field is moving in a brisk pace – but is it enough to reach the goal by 2021?
The NERC report said that when renewable energy is incorporated into the power grid, it will require more advance computer models to control this flow. It has to monitor the variables with regards to the weather that can affect the electricity output of solar and wind units.
About renewable energy sources, the NERC report stated that advances in the flywheel and battery storage technologies can make it easier to manage the power grid. It also said that wind and solar generators installed on businesses and homes should be connected to the grid as well.
Wind power used to be unreliable, but in the future, wind turbine technology will make it more flexible. Future turbine blades can be made to dump wind when it is required. There was also a brief mention of the discouraging scenario of local government units arguing about who would pay for the upgrade of the power grids.
James said it right, when he said:
That’s an equity issue that is basically a political question, not a technical question.
Wind and solar power are already in our grasps, and ready to be used in the near future. But are we ready for them?