The Variability and Intermittency of Wind and Solar Power Can Be Overcome Without Storage By Using the National Energy With Weather System (NEWS) Simulator To Design A National US Electric (and Energy) Sector

Wednesday, 16 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Christopher Clack1, Alexander E MacDonald2, James M Wilczak2, Anneliese Alexander1, Adam D Dunbar2, Yuanfu Xie2, Melinda Marquis3, Paul Picciano2, Julia Paine4, Leigh Terry5 and National Energy with Weather Simulator Team, (1)University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, United States, (2)NOAA Boulder, Earth Systems Research Laboratory, Boulder, CO, United States, (3)NOAA, Boulder, CO, United States, (4)Columbia University of New York, Palisades, NY, United States, (5)NOAA Boulder, Renewable Energy Group, Boulder, CO, United States
The importance of weather-driven renewable energies for the United States energy portfolio is growing. The main perceived problems with weather-driven renewable energies are their intermittent nature, low power density, and high costs. The Cooperative Institute for the Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado collaborated with the Earth Systems Research Laboratory of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to construct a mathematical optimization of a reduced form of the US electric sector. Care was taken to retain salient features of the electric sector, while allowing for detailed weather and power data to be incorporated for wind and solar energies. The National Energy with Weather System (NEWS) simulator was created.

With the NEWS simulator tests can be performed that are unique and insightful. The simulator can maintain the status quo and build out a system following costs or imposed targets for carbon dioxide emission reductions. It can find the least cost electric sector for each state, or find a national power system that incorporates vast amounts of variable generation.

In the current presentation, we will focus on one of the most unique aspects of the NEWS simulator; the ability to specify a specific amount of wind and/or solar each hour for a three-year historical period for the least total cost. The simulator can find where to place wind and solar to reduce variability (ramping requirements for back-up generators). The amount of variable generation each hour is very different to an RPS type standard because the generators need to work in concert for long periods of time. The results indicate that for very similar costs the amount of back-up generation (natural gas or storage) can be reduced significantly.