Over the last 48 hours, wind energy played a critical role in keeping homeowners warm as grid operators across the Eastern and Central U.S. worked overtime to keep up with record-breaking winter demand.
Most importantly, wind energy provided massive quantities of extremely valuable electricity when grid operators needed it most to meet demand from electric heaters and furnace fans. In several cases, wind energy’s output provided the critical difference that allowed grid operators to keep supply and demand in balance and the lights on. Wind energy also helped by offsetting natural gas consumption at gas-fired power plants, keeping natural gas prices in check by making more natural gas available for building heat.
The last two days serve as a powerful reminder that wind energy plays a critical role in diversifying our energy mix, improving energy reliability and reducing energy costs for homes and businesses. Diversity inherently makes the power system more reliable by protecting against the unexpected failures that afflict all energy sources from time to time. While wind energy output does change with the wind speed, such changes occur far more slowly than the unexpected outages that frequently occur at large conventional power plants. Moreover, changes in wind energy output are predictable using weather forecasting, while conventional power plant failures are not, making them far more difficult and costly for grid operators to accommodate.
Diversifying our energy mix with wind energy also protects consumers from energy price fluctuations. By providing consumers with more choice, wind energy reduces the price of both electricity and fossil fuels and hedges against price volatility, both during times of crisis and over the longer-term.
As the winter storm moved from west to east over the last two days, wind energy repeatedly proved its reliability and value:
Wind energy diversifies our energy mix, providing consumers with more reliable and lower cost electricity during both extreme weather and normal conditions.
This article was originally published on AWEA's Into the Wind blog and was republished with permission.
Lead image: Wind turbine snow via Shutterstock