Variability and uncertainty of wind power in the California electric power system



The California generation fleet manages the existing variability and uncertainty in the demand for electric power (load). When wind power is added, the dispatchable generators manage the variability and uncertainty of the net load (load minus wind power). The variability and uncertainty of the load and the net load are compared when 8790 MW of wind power are added to the California power system, a level expected when California achieves its 33% renewable portfolio standard, using a data set of 26,296 h of synchronous historic load and modeled historic wind power output. Variability was calculated as the rate of change in power generated by wind farms or consumed by the load from 1 h to the next (MW/h). Uncertainty was calculated as the 1 h ahead forecast error [MW] of the wind power or of the load. The data show that wind power adds no additional variability than is already present in the load variability. However, wind power adds additional uncertainty through increased forecast errors in the net load compared with the load. Forecast errors in the net load increase 18.7% for negative forecast errors (actual less than forecast) and 5.4% for positive forecast errors (actual greater than forecast). The increase in negative forecast errors occurs only during the afternoon hours when negative load forecasts and positive wind forecasts are strongly correlated. Managing the integration of wind power in the California power system should focus on reducing wind power forecast uncertainty for wind ramp ups during the afternoon hours. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.