Researchers from the University of Delaware and Princeton University have found that the US electrical grid can effectively handle more offshore wind power by using simulation model.

The researchers claimed that the grids can handle additional load with some upgrades to transmission lines without any need for added storage. 

Additional supply of offshore wind power will also help in cutting electricity costs and pollution compared to current fossil fuel sources, the researchers said.

In consultation of grid operator PJM Interconnection, the researchers developed a computer model that can simulate how the electric grid could respond to injections of wind power from offshore wind farms.

The simulation model of PJM, created at Princeton called Smart-ISO, can deal with the variability and uncertainty of growing inputs of offshore wind energy. The model enabled to simulate an extensive power grid with more than 60,000 miles of transmission lines.

The team has demonstrated that PJM can handle about 35GW of offshore wind with some upgrades to transmission and without added storage, helping to power more than 10 million homes.

Researchers used stochastic modeling, which enabled to carry out multiple forecasts with various tweaks in conditions to represent the fluctuating and unpredictable behavior of wind.

It was also found during the study that the handling capacity of PJM grid can be increased up to 70 gigawatts with the improvement in wind forecasting.

When researchers started their study five years back, the first US offshore wind farm, including five wind turbines at Block Island, Rhode Island, with a generating capacity of 30MW, had not been constructed.

The 70GW offshore model used in the study is almost equal to the total US wind power capacity installed on land by the end of 2016.

Princeton lead professor and researcher and SMART-ISO model in charge Warren Powell said: “The uncertainty of wind will require that we develop strategies to minimize the need for spinning reserve.

“Although we found that reserves were needed — 21 percent of the 70 gigawatt wind capacity — there are a number of strategies that could be investigated to better handle the variability as wind grows in the future.”

Image: The researchers used Smart-ISO model to handle the variability and uncertainty of growing inputs of offshore wind energy. Photo: courtesy of University of Delaware.