Friday, November 07, 2008

Renewable energy in Arizona dependent on more transmission

More than 80 people are talking through complex issues today on transmission interconnections, dispatchable vs intermittent, load constraints and other esoteric topics that are critical if Arizona is going to see renewable energy develop its potential.

The Arizona Wind Working Group is gathered at the ASU Mercado campus in Phoenix's Copper Square to focus on wind energy. But as a number of panelist demonstrated this morning, wind, solar, geothermal, and electric transmission are intertwined. Peter Krzykos with Arizona Public Service, summed it up when he said renewable energy is dependent on having more transmission.

James Dominick, with Xcel Energy in Colorado, described the challenges of incorporating over 1,000 megawatts (MW) of wind energy into their system. They are using surplus wind energy at night to pump water into storage that can be used during peak times to generate power. They are researching using wind energy to pump compressed air into caverns for later use and how to create economically produce hydrogen from wind energy.

Geothermal power is such a small component compared to solar and wind potential, that it's been lumped into the solar planning scenarios.

[right, wind power at 50m elevations above the ground. Credit, NAU]

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