The Super Grid Might Work After All

One of the problems with wind power is that the output from all the projects within an area tend to produce power at the same time.  Proponents claim that if you make the area big enough, and interconnected enough with transmission lines big enough the “wind always blows somewhere”.  But how big is big enough?  We know that a diameter of 250 miles is not big enough, as evidenced by the variability of the output from all of the projects within both the Ontario and Bonneville areas, as shown below.  What is also left out of this discussion is the environmental and financial costs of those lines – which must be sized to handle the capacity of all the connectible wind projects, but which on average will carry only 25% or so of that capacity.

But, in an effort to see if the super grid idea would ever work, I plotted the output of the Ontario grid (out of about 1100MW capacity) and the Bonneville grid (out of about 2700MW).  First notice that neither grid by itself offers much in the way of generation leveling.  But together they seem to be, at least for this sample 5 days, pretty complimentary.  The fact that they are 3000 miles apart shouldn’t be a problem, should it?

One thought on “The Super Grid Might Work After All”

  1. I think this is called “the Fredonia reactor”. Yup, that’ll work! NOT!

    I’m pretty sure both Germany and the US have literally tens of thousands of wind turbines scattered over their vast countrysides. There is talk of a smart grid to balance the load but the infinitesimal amount of energy all these turbines actually produce compared to demand make this whole idea a little absurd! We would need literally tens of millions of these things all interconnected. Where is the environmental benefit here? I wouldn’t want to be a tree in this scenario!

    Based on the fossil record, it’s a pretty safe bet the planet will do just fine if CO2 levels rise a few more percentage points. It is an equally safe bet we would be screwed if O2 levels fell a few percentage points.

    I am rooting for the trees!

    Best regards and keep at it.

    Sean Holt.

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