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3TIER, an independent provider of wind, solar and hydro energy assessment and power forecasting, was chosen by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to conduct the largest-scale wind integration study ever undertaken, according to the company.

The Western Wind Integration Study (WWIS) will support federal and state initiatives to expand renewable energy capacity by helping utilities understand operational and cost impacts of wind power integration. Study results will be publicly available online after the study is complete in late spring.

"We know that areas with good wind resources have the potential to supply up to 20 percent of the nation's electricity consumption," says Robert Thresher, NREL's director of wind technology. "But historically, one of the largest problems with wind energy is the cost of integrating it into a regional system while maintaining power output reliability because it is an intermittent weather-dependent fuel source. Our goal is that with the information from the WWIS, many of those barriers to expanding wind power capacity in the western United States will go away."

According to 3TIER, the data set will cover a three-year period at a temporal resolution of 10 minutes. In addition, 30,000 synthetic time series of wind energy output will be generated, representing unique 30 MW wind farms, totaling 900 GW of potential energy capacity. The synthetic time series will be available through a Web site developed by 3TIER and maintained by NREL.

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