Southwest Power Pool (SPP) in the USA has set a wind power penetration record of 52.1 per cent on 12 February, becoming the first regional transmission organisation (RTO) in North America to serve more than 50 per cent of its load at a given time with wind energy. The previous record by a North American RTO was 49.2 per cent, set by SPP on 24 April, 2016.
Wind power has grown significantly in SPP over the last decade. In the early 2000s, SPPs generating fleet included less than 400 MW of wind, and for years, wind was reported in the “Other” category in SPP’s fuel mix data. Wind had 15 per cent of SPP’s generating capacity in 2016, the third most prevalent source in the region, behind gas and coal.
Installed wind capacity increased in 2016 by 30 per cent, rising from 12 GW to over 16 GW.
Bruce Row, Vice President of Operations at SPP, said: “Ten years ago, we thought hitting even a 25 per cent wind penetration level would be extremely challenging, and any more than that would pose serious threats to reliability. Since then, we’ve gained experience and implemented new policies and procedures. Now we have the ability to reliably manage greater than 50 per cent wind penetration. We continue to study even higher levels of renewable, variable generation as part of our plans to maintain a reliable and economic grid of the future.”
SPP has approved the construction of more than $10 billion in high-voltage transmission infrastructure over the last decade, with much of it being built in the Midwest to connect rural, isolated wind farms to population centres hundreds of miles away.