The most common way of describing the quality of an existing or potential wind or solar power generation site is the total amount of energy expected to be generated based on typical weather patterns. This total amount of energy is characterized by the capacity factor (the ratio between the expected generated amounts to the maximum possible amount for hypothetical conditions of constantly blowing wind or sunshine for a 24 hour period). The capacity factor gives a correct estimate for the useful amount of generated energy when only a small fraction of power comes from wind or solar resources and there are no significant curtailments.
The proposed method provides a consistent measure for renewable power quality. The difference between the overall amount of energy (capacity factor based estimates) and the useful energy (this method) can be as high as a factor of two and will influence the choice of wind or solar generators. The new method of characterizing renewable energy resources will be useful to different users.
NREL scientists have developed software that accomplishes two key items:
- Characterizes detailed weather conditions for a given area over a significant span of time. This develops a broad set of potential wind and solar generation sites in the area with their corresponding individual generation profiles. The weather condition characterization includes historic measurements and detailed weather modeling
- Determines the planned set of generation sites that will be built, maximizing the amount of un-curtailed (useful) energy from each site, and thus minimizing the costs associated with building the generation sites
Individual sites are presented based on the criteria for best load support, the sites number in the tens of thousands across the western U.S., excluding Alaska. The results show that about 80% of the load can be matched with wind and solar, while curtailing less than 10% of the generated energy.
This software could be useful for energy developers, infrastructure development, utility risk management, and others that are interested in site development that includes transmission issues as well as generation potential.
For more information, please contact Jean Schulte at:
Applications and Industries
- Renewable Energy Developers
- Policy Developers
- Accurate capacity factor
- Multiple sites