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Supercomputing Model Provides Insights from Higher Wind and Solar Generation in the Eastern Power Grid

A new study from the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) used high-performance computing capabilities and innovative visualization tools to model, in unprecedented detail, how the power grid of the eastern United States could operationally accommodate higher levels of wind and solar photovoltaic generation. The analysis considered scenarios of up to 30 percent annual penetration of wind and solar.

Whereas previous studies have investigated operations in one-hour intervals, NREL's Eastern Renewable Generation Integration Study (ERGIS) analyzed a year of operations at 5-minute intervals, the same real-time interval used by grid operators for scheduling resources.

Fast Facts from the Analysis

  • The maximum penetration of wind and solar was 60 percent over a five-minute interval.
  • The maximum annual curtailment of wind and solar was 6.2 percent.
  • Wind and solar generation result in a 30 percent reduction in generation and commitment from coal and natural gas plants in the high wind and solar scenarios.
  • Over the baseline scenario, CO2 emissions were reduced by up to 33 percent annually in our high wind and solar scenarios.

Read more about ERGIS and its role in the Grid Modernization Initiative