A new study funded by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory has found that Nebraska and the other states in the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) region can reliably obtain 40% of their electricity from wind energy, achieving major carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions reductions and incurring only minor costs associated with operating the power system differently than it operates today.

The wind integration study, examined how the power system would operate in scenarios in which 10%, 20% and 40% of the electricity was supplied by wind energy in Nebraska and the SPP region, which includes all of Kansas and Oklahoma, most of Nebraska, and parts of New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi and Arkansas. A 40% wind energy penetration is one of the highest levels studied thus far in the U.S., according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), which praised the findings.

Major emissions reductions were found in all scenarios, with CO2 emissions dropping by over 25 million tons per year in moving from the 10% wind scenario to the 40% wind scenario. The study also found that the cost of operating the power system differently to accommodate wind energy was modest, although exact integration costs varied depending on the methodology used to account for the costs.

One method found costs ranging from $1.39/MWh of wind energy in the 10% wind case and up to $1.68/MWh of wind energy in the 40% case. Another method was applied only to the 10% and 20% wind cases and found costs of $1.92/MWh in the 10% case and $3.11 in the 20% case, while a third found costs of $3.21/MWh in the 10% case and $4.29/MWh in the 20% case.  SOURCE: The American Wind Energy Association