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Wind power is a mature participant in the power grids of Europe. In North America, however, wind power is still a small player but growing rapidly. As such, power grid operators in North America are just beginning to learn how to incorporate wind power into transmission grids and how to manage the variable power output of wind plants. The challenge for wind energy transmission can be viewed as a "chicken and egg" situation. Transmission owners are not currently able to build new high-voltage transmission lines to remote areas where there may be a high potential wind energy resource but little existing generation or load. Bottlenecks in high-load corridors typically have priority for the limited funds available for building new transmission lines. Wind plant developers, as a result, are not able to build new wind power plants in remote wind-rich areas unless there is a transmission line capable of transferring the plant output to major load centers. So today, wind developers find it necessary to locate wind plants in less-attractive wind regions that are closer to existing transmission lines with available capacity.
Date of Publication: Nov.-Dec. 2007