ISO-NE analyzes potential impact of offshore wind during historic cold spell

Acting on a request from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), ISO New England recently released a high-level assessment of the potential impact of offshore wind on the region’s power system during the historic cold snap from December 24, 2017 to January 8, 2018.

MassCEC provided the ISO with production estimates for three hypothetical offshore wind scenarios of varying nameplate sizes: 400 megawatts (MW), 800 MW, and 1,600 MW. The production estimates were based on wind speeds recorded at three offshore sites during the cold spell. The ISO’s System Planning Department analyzed the potential impact these levels of wind energy production could have had on wholesale energy market prices, environmental emissions, and fossil fuel savings.

The ISO’s analysis was limited to the production data provided by MassCEC and used simplistic assumptions for system operations that did not capture all the complexities of real-time operations; annual rates for reduction of environmental emissions; estimates of heat rates for generating units; and generic fuel prices for fossil fuel generators.

Based on the hypothetical production scenarios and considering the caveats above, the analysis concluded that if power from offshore wind projects had been available during the cold spell of 2017/2018, energy market prices and environmental emissions would have been lower during that two-week period, and less fossil fuels would have been used to generate electricity.

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