NREL: 20% Wind Possible by 2024

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has released the Eastern Wind Integration and Transmission Study (EWITS). The first of its kind, two-and-a-half year technical study of future high-penetration wind scenarios was designed to analyze the economic, operational, and technical implications of shifting 20 percent or more of the Eastern Interconnection’s electrical load to wind energy by the year 2024.


The study, which pushes out the 20% by 2020 timeframe that was laid out in 2008, identified operational best practices and analyzed wind resources, future wind deployment scenarios, and transmission options.

Among its key findings are that the integration of 20 percent wind energy is technically feasible, but will require significant expansion of the transmission infrastructure. This echoes the sentiment of the wind industry in the past few years.


The study also found that without transmission enhancements, substantial curtailment of wind generation would be required for all 20 percent wind scenarios studied and the relative cost of expanding the existing transmission grid represents only a small portion of the total costs in any of the scenarios studied.

Twenty percent wind is an ambitious goal, but this study shows that there are multiple scenarios through which it can be achieved,” said David Corbus, NREL project manager for the study. “Whether we’re talking about using land-based wind in the Midwest, offshore wind in the East or any combination of wind power resources, any plausible scenario requires transmission infrastructure upgrades and we need to start planning for that immediately.”

Click here to download the EWITS Executive Summary and the full study for free.

American Wind Energy Association CEO Denise Bode pointed to the release of the study as further validation that large amounts of wind energy can be reliably integrated into the nation’s electricity grid at low cost.

“This ground-breaking study demonstrates the major role wind energy can provide across the Eastern US, reducing and stabilizing electricity rates while protecting the environment. It also shows the urgency of transmission reform for both onshore and offshore wind development, because if we wait any longer we will not have the lines soon enough to tap these cost-effective domestic renewable resources.”

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