Cost of wind energy: comparing distant wind resources to local resources in the midwestern United States.
The best wind sites in the United States are often located far from electricity demand centers and lack transmission access. Local sites that have lower quality wind resources but do not require as much power transmission capacity are an alternative to distant wind resources. In this paper, we explore the trade-offs between developing new wind generation at local sites and installing wind farms at remote sites. We first examine the general relationship between the high capital costs required for local wind development and the relatively lower capital costs required to install a wind farm capable of generating the same electrical output at a remote site,with the results representing the maximum amount an investor should be willing to pay for transmission access. We suggest that this analysis can be used as a first step in comparing potential wind resources to meet a state renewable portfolio standard (RPS). To illustrate, we compare the cost of local wind (∼50 km from the load) to the cost of distant wind requiring new transmission (∼550-750 km from the load) to meet the Illinois RPS. We find that local, lower capacity factor wind sites are the lowest cost option for meeting the Illinois RPS if new long distance transmission is required to access distant, higher capacity factor wind resources. If higher capacity wind sites can be connected to the existing grid at minimal cost, in many cases they will have lower costs.
Hoppock, DC; Patiño-Echeverri, D
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