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SPP sets new wind peak record of 20.1 GW after record-breaking 2020


Renewable peak record of 21.45 GW also set Feb. 4

SPP had 27 GW of wind capacity at the end of 2020

4.1 GW of wind capacity could join grid in 2021

Houston — Southwest Power Pool set a new wind peak record for the second time in as many months, reaching 20.108 GW and surpassing the previous record by more than 250 MW.

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The new record was reached at 7:45 am Feb. 4 when SPP also set a new renewable peak record of 21.446 GW, meaning a record amount of wind, solar and hydro was produced during that time.

"SPP has seen tremendous growth in wind generation," SPP Spokeswoman Meghan Sever told S&P Global Platts in an email Feb. 5. "In 2020, we became the first US RTO to report wind as our main fuel source. On Feb. 4, we hit a wind peak record of 20,108 MW, exceeding 20,000 MW for the first time."

At the time of the Feb. 4 wind peak record, wind generation accounted for 62.3% of load, Sever said. The wind penetration record stands at 73.2% reached at 1:24 am April 27.

The previous wind peak record was 19.848 GW reached Jan. 14.

Winds of change

SPP wind-powered generation set an ISO fuel mix record at 32% in 2020, taking over the top spot from coal-fired generation. Wind generation in 2020 increased nearly 4 percentage points year on year, while coal decreased 4 points to average 30.6% for the year, according to SPP data.

Coal generation had long been the lead fuel source in SPP, accounting for more than 60% of the fuel stack in 2014 and prior, but that changed as wind generation began to sweep across the nation, increasing from 6% of SPP's share in 2011 to more than 32% in 2020, according to SPP data. In contrast, the last time coal generation had an increase was in 2013.

The US Energy Information Administration projected renewables to surpass nuclear and coal generation by 2021 and surpass natural gas in 2045, according to the EIA's Annual Energy Outlook 2020 reference case.

SPP had 27 GW of wind capacity at the end of 2020 with 4.092 GW scheduled to be in commercial operation by the end of 2021, Sever said, adding that is an estimation as projects may drop out or get rescheduled.

"SPP is able to reliably integrate record amounts of wind generation because of our diverse fuel mix and commitment to working with our members to build a strong transmission system capable of delivering renewable energy across our footprint," Sever said. "And we're just getting started."

SPP has 40.103 GW of wind in its generation interconnection queue, with a growing amount of solar and storage projects on the way, Sever said.

As more renewable generation is used, it tends to pull down wholesale power prices since costs are lower to generate renewable power.

SPP South Hub on-peak day-ahead locational marginal prices have nearly been cut in half over the last six years to average about $21.368/MWh in 2020, while North Hub on-peak day-ahead LMPs decreased 36% during the same time to average $21.32/MWh in 2020, according to SPP data.