The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has released a study assessing the operational impacts and economics of increased contributions from wind and solar energy producers on the power grid. The Western Wind and Solar Integration Study examines the benefits and challenges of integrating enough wind and solar energy capacity into the grid to produce 35 percent of its electricity by 2017. The study finds that this target is technically feasible and does not necessitate extensive additional infrastructure, but does require key changes to current operational practice.
The study found that if utilities generate 27 percent of their electricity from wind and solar energy across the Western Interconnection grid, it would lower carbon emissions by 25 to 45 percent.
The study can be downloaded at http://www.nrel.gov/wwsis.