The Socioeconomic Environment in Wind Turbine Generator System Integration

The Socioeconomic Environment in Wind Turbine Generator System Integration

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2839-7.ch001

Abstract

The renewable energy generation initiatives contain a low-cost viable option for the electric consumer worldwide. The efficient methodologies of wind, solar, ocean current, and geothermal power generation are attractive alternatives to fossil fuels. Based on the current condition of the infrastructure, most of the proposed wind energy projects require transmission line upgrades. In some regional impact studies, the existing transmission system may have sufficient capability to handle the power from the planned renewable generating sources. Nevertheless, integrating large amounts of wind power (even small amounts in some areas) will require some form of infrastructure upgrades.
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Introduction

A vast majority of end-users are keenly aware of the harmful influence caused by these carbon generators, yet are reluctant to embrace the change of renewable technologies. The resounding bawl of “Not-In-My-Backyard” (NIMBY) is heard in U.S. communities when major electrical capital projects are proposed. Nevertheless, the conveyance of these crucial megawatts from the generators to distant urban areas poses key challenges with the current, constrained infrastructure in the U.S. The development of utility-scale or commercial wind energy systems in recent years created an incredible interest, mainly due to minimum renewable energy standard initiatives passed by a number of states for electricity providers. The move toward increased wind energy integration is stimulated by numerous aspects, to include state and federal policies (i.e., state renewable standards, federal production tax credit) as well as ambiguity over future limitations on carbon emissions. The increase of installed wind energy systems in the U.S. and the considerable amount of applications by developers to interconnect planned wind projects to the electric grid is indicative of this trend. Nevertheless, this hasty enhancement in installed and proposed wind energy systems has presented significant challenge for utility planners. The conventional power plant require several years of tedious planning, whereas wind turbine generators can be installed much more rapidly than it takes to plan, site, and construct the related transmission system improvements considered necessary to permit the wind turbines to operate safely as part of the power system and to safely transport the power to customers without overloading transmission lines. Based on the current condition of the infrastructure, most of the proposed wind energy projects require transmission line upgrades. In some regional impact studies, the existing transmission system may have sufficient capability handle the power from the planned renewable generating sources. Nevertheless, integrating large amounts of wind power (even small amounts in some areas) will require some form of infrastructure upgrades. Currently, electricity is produced principally by large power plants by the conversion process of coal, natural gas, hydro or nuclear fission as the primary energy sources. These generation technologies are by and large inexpensive and reliable and utilized in power systems for decades. A significant drawback of the exploitation of fossil fuels and uranium nonetheless is their finiteness, creating power generation from these resources inherently untenable. A subsequent disadvantage that applies, especially to natural gas and uranium, is the unequal allocation of fuel provisions amid regions, creating energy dependencies between them and potential for exercising political influence. Another drawback is the emission of greenhouse gases, in particular CO2, when burning coal, oil and natural gas for power generation. The nuclear fission conversion has the distinct disadvantage of nuclear waste and the development of new installations is complicated in many countries. A large hydroelectric unit does not have the shortcomings of fossil fuel-powered generation since it uses a sustainable supply of rainfall for power generation. Nonetheless, its potential has previously been exploited, particularly in developed countries, and the construction of new large installations has considerable challenges of its own. New generation plants are most likely will be located in outlying areas from load centers, requiring bulk power transmission over great distances. Furthermore, the creation of hydro reservoirs necessitates flooding of vast areas, which has devastating effects on local environments. Unmistakably, there are restrictions to the extent that conventional generation technologies can be a branch included in a future, sustainable power supply. Another challenge is that the compulsory bulk transmission upgrades for energy systems have characteristically been developed and constructed on a case-by-case basis for a specific project. This technique is commonly appropriated for large, baseload generating facilities, yet it can prove problematical when numerous wind energy systems are constructed. The transmission system upgrades often requires longer planning, site, and constructing time than the typical lead time for a wind energy system, therefore the bulk transmission system can be wedged in a mode of continuous catch up ~ responding to the requirements of individual projects rather than the long-term needs of the system. The development of incremental improvements to interconnect every wind energy system may not be cost-effective in the long run, particularly given the time and cost involved in siting and constructing transmission lines. Other complicated challenges exist specific to diverse types of integrated resource in a renewable energy portfolio ~ specifically with distributed generators. The typical wind farm, for example, frequently requires expensive capital investments in transmission lines to connect the distant location of the farms to the grid and load centers. Fossil-fuel-based Distributed Generator resources commonly are required to meet federal or state air quality emission standards, which can be cost prohibitive and may thwart their operation when they are most desired. For example, during peak periods in the summer months, when Distributed Generator resources are most advantageous and energy prices are elevated, some fossil-fuel-based Distributed Generator resources may be prohibited from operating because of inferior air quality and high smog conditions that characteristically accompany hot humid weather.

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