Wind Generation in the Future Competitive California Power Market

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The goal of this work is to develop improved methods for assessing the viability of wind generation in competitive electricity markets. The viability of a limited number of possible wind sites is assessed using a geographic information system (GIS) to determine the cost of development, and Elfin, an electric utility production costing and capacity expansion model, to estimate the possible revenues and profits of wind farms at the sites. This approach improves on a simple profitability calculation by using a site-specific development cost calculation and by taking the effect of time varying market prices on revenues into account. The first component of the work is to develop data characterizing wind resources suitable for use in production costing and capacity expansion models, such as Elfin, that are capable of simulating competitive electricity markets. An improved representation of California wind resources is built, using information collected by the California Energy Commission (CEC) in previous site evaluations, and by using a GIS approach to estimating development costs at 36 specific sites. These sites, which have been identified as favorable for wind development, are placed on Digital Elevation Maps (DEMs) and development costs are calculated based on distances to roads and transmission lines. GIS is also used to develop the potential capacity at each site by making use of the physical characteristics of the terrain, such as ridge lengths. In the second part of the effort, using a previously developed algorithm for simulating competitive entry to the California electricity market, the Elfin model is used to gauge the viability of wind farms at the 36 sites. The results of this exercise are forecasts of profitable development levels at each site and the effects of these developments on the electricity system as a whole. Under best guess assumptions, including prohibition of new nuclear and coal capacity, moderate increase in gas prices and some decline in renewable capital costs, about 7.35 GW of the 10 GW potential capacity at the 36 specific sites is profitably developed and 62 TWh of electricity produced per annum by the year 2030. Most of the development happens during the earlier years of the forecast. Sensitivity of these results to future gas price scenarios is also presented. This study also demonstrates that an analysis based on a simple levelized profitability calculation approach does not sufficiently capture the implications of time varying prices in a competitive market.

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