Wind and solar power now provide the least-cost options for electricity generation in windy and sunny regions of the USA, even before accounting for subsidies and environmental impacts (Lazard 2017). Wind and solar also yield substantial benefits for climate, air quality, and health when replacing fossil fuels (Jacobson 2008).
As wind and solar power installations proliferate, power grids will face new challenges in ensuring consistent coverage from variable renewable resources. One option to reduce variability is to integrate the output from wind and solar facilities with dissimilar temporal profiles of output. This study measured the complementarity of wind and solar resources sited in various regions of Texas. This study modeled solar and wind power output using the System Advisory Model with solar data from the National Solar Radiation Database and wind data from the Wind Integration National Dataset Toolkit. Half-hourly power production was assessed based on resource location, plant size, hourly load, inter-annual variability, and solar array design for all sites. We found that solar and wind resources exhibit complementary peaks in production on an annual and daily level and that West and South Texas wind resources also exhibit complementarity. Pairings of West Texas wind with solar power or South Texas wind sites yield the highest firm capacity. Solar farms are better suited for providing power during summertime hours of peak demand, whereas wind farms are better for winter. Taken together, our results suggest that Texas renewable power production can be made more reliable by combining resources of different types and locations.
Authors: Joanna H. Slusarewicz and Daniel S. Cohan