Does Montana wind hold the renewable energy key for the Pacific Northwest?

Source: Gaelectric North America

New research has confirmed unique features of the Montana wind resource in providing solutions for the Pacific Northwest power market. 

Analysis undertaken by Dr. Charles Shawley, Technical Specialist with Gaelectric North America, examines the impacts of combining geographically diverse wind resources with existing wind and renewable resources, including those found along the Columbia River Gorge, on the Pacific Northwest electricity system. 

The research provides empirical evidence confirming the unique features of the Montana wind regime including its strong daytime (diurnal) and counter-seasonal characteristics to both the existing hydroelectric and wind generation in the Pacific Northwest. This means that it is a strong fit to the load in the Pacific Northwest and complementary to existing renewable energy sources. Therefore Montana wind should play a crucial role in facilitating increasing levels of renewable energy in the Pacific Northwest. 

Commenting on the publication of the research, Eamonn McGrath, President, Gaelectric North America, said:
"Montanans have always known that their wind is one of the best wind resources in North America. However, this study now provides empirical evidence to all off takers in the Pacific Northwest and to BPA that, the addition of Montana wind into their renewable portfolio will bring the benefits of geographic diversification whilst at the same time providing a far superior match to the region's load than the current Columbia River Gorge wind resource." 

He said: "This report demonstrates just how important Gaelectric's first 430MW Montana wind project, which begins construction in 2013, will be in supporting a sustainable energy future in the Pacific Northwest." 

Among the results and conclusions of the analysis were that Central Montana wind: 

1. Correlates well with the Pacific Northwest winter-peaking utility loads.
2. Exhibits a strong daytime (diurnal) characteristic that correlates well with the Pacific Northwest utility load profile on an hourly basis.
3. Is counter-seasonal to the current BPA system wind generation and Pacific Northwest hydroelectric generation.
4. Is complementary on an hourly basis to the existing BPA system wind generation.
5. Has a significantly higher capacity factor than existing BPA system wind generation.
6. Provides a unique product with desirable characteristics for integration into the BPA grid.

Data sources used in the study included sources from BPA, Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC), US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and proprietary wind measurement data. 

Gaelectric is a group of companies, founded in 2004 with assets in Europe and the US. Each Group company is active in different fields of renewable power generation and energy storage with experienced teams specialized in all aspects of project planning, permitting, finance, engineering and management.

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