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This is an excerpt from the Fourth Quarter 2011 edition of the Wind Program R&D Newsletter.

In 2008, the Department of Energy (DOE) outlined a scenario where wind energy could account for 20% of America's total power generation portfolio by 2030. But what does that mean for men and women in control centers across the country working to maintain reliability while accommodating a significant increase in variable energy supply?

For the past 12 months, DOE has supported a groundbreaking study through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to examine that question on an unprecedented scale. The resulting report, Strategies and Decision Support Systems for Integrating Variable Energy Resources in Control Centers for Reliable Grid Operations: Global Practices, Examples of Excellence and Lessons Learned, by GE, identifies the challenges associated with increasing variable generation and provides utilities with recommendations and examples of success stories aimed at informing the design of decision-support tools, solutions, and strategies for integrating more wind energy into their own power systems.

To conduct the study, Areva Federal Services and GE investigators gathered on-the-ground insights from 33 grid operators in 18 countries. They also examined best practices established during the integration of more than 141 GW of installed wind capacity or 72% of the installed wind capacity in the world. Their report presents the first-known research based on such a global sampling of grid operators.

GE produced a series of webinars in October to present high-level findings from the full report. Those presentations reviewed five elements essential to successful wind integration: Accurate Forecasting, Decision Support Tools, Supportive Policy and Regulation, Flexibility, and Workforce Readiness. They also outlined high-level recommendations around each of these themes.

For a summary of the GE grid integration report, read the report’s Executive Summary.