Assessing the Cost-Effectiveness of Short-Term Smoothing of Wind Power

EPA Grant Number: FP917170
Title: Assessing the Cost-Effectiveness of Short-Term Smoothing of Wind Power
Investigators: Rose, Stephen M
Institution: Stephen F Austin State University
EPA Project Officer: Zambrana, Jose
Project Period: August 23, 2010 through August 22, 2013
Project Amount: $111,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2010) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Fellowship - Science & Technology for Sustainability: Energy


The amount of wind power that can be accepted by the electrical grid is limited by the ability of other power plants to compensate for unpredictable variations in wind power. If the variability of wind power can be reduced, the electrical grid can accept more wind power without adding additional conventional power plants. This research will assess the cost-effectiveness of methods to reduce the short-term variability of wind power that can be implemented with existing technologies.

The electrical power from large wind turbines varies unpredictably, which can reduce the stability of the electrical power grid. This research investigates the cost-effectiveness of methods to smooth wind power variations without wind energy storage devices such as batteries. These cost comparisons will help guide policies that promote wind energy while minimizing electricity prices and maintaining the stability of the electrical system.


Three methods of smoothing wind power will be tested with a simulation of a large wind farm: wind turbine design, wind turbine control strategies, and the arrangement of turbines in a wind farm. The control strategies increase the operating cost of a wind farm, and the turbine designs and arrangement in a wind farm increase the initial cost of a wind farm. The cost-effectiveness of these methods will be compared to the cost-effectiveness of using energy storage, such as batteries, and small gas turbine power plants to compensate for wind power fluctuations.

Expected Results:

Estimates of the cost of turbine design, operation, and placement strategies will guide policy and investment decisions. Other researchers have shown some of these strategies are technically effective for smoothing wind power, but this research will determine which ones are worth the cost. These results will guide electrical grid operators as they decide what types of new power plants to build and how to schedule them. These results will also guide government policy makers as they decide how to structure renewable energy subsidies, renewable portfolio standards, and research and development programs.

Potential to Further Environmental/Human Health Protection
The results of this research should indirectly help to improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by helping to increase the percentage of electricity generated from wind power. These results may also provide a cost-effective way to reduce NOx emissions. Gas turbine power plants emit more NOx when they rapidly vary their power output to compensate for wind power fluctuations than gas turbine power plants that output steady power.

Supplemental Keywords:

wind energy, electrical grid, frequency regulation,

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2011
  • 2012
  • Final