Wood Mackenzie looks at the polar vortex and 100% renewable energy
The research and consultancy group’s study of the latest polar vortex shows the need for greater interconnection of grids and 18-40 hours of energy storage in the Upper Midwest under high renewable energy scenarios. It also shows a potential role for nuclear power; but other extreme weather events tell a different story.
Extreme weather events are when you find out how well your power grid really works. As the effects of climate change become more obvious, we’ve been having more of these, with the result of more power outages, which are usually the result of downed power lines.
Last week Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables took a look at how various resources performed during the “polar vortex” from January 22 – February 3 in the Midwest and Northeastern United States, including projections of how resources would fare in a 100% renewable energy scenario.
There isn’t much solar to study in these regions, but there is a lot of wind in the Mid-continent System Operator (MISO) and Southwest Power Pool (SPP) grids. However, Wood Mackenzie describes wind output during this time as being “generally anti-correlated to load.”
This was particularly true on the extreme cold days of January 30 and 31; and while solar was producing more during these days, there isn’t much solar yet on these grids, leaving coal, gas and nuclear power to do the heavy lifting.