Wind Power Projects

Tech, MSU Researchers Aim to Demonstrate Distributed Wind Generation/Storage System

Montana has many remote industrial sites, including mining operations, that require electrical power resulting in long radial electrical distribution lines. Because the capacity of these radial lines is often limited, it is necessary to consider how future load additions will be served.

Two possible alternatives are:
1) the size of the lines could be increased, at considerable cost; or
2) distributed generation could be installed at appropriate points along the lines near the loads.

When costs of building or up-grading transmission lines are weighed against the costs of distributed generation, it is easy to envision cases where distributed generation would be more cost effective. In addition to economic concerns, questions regarding power quality, reliability, storage and stability need to be addressed in the design and operation of distributed generation/storage systems. Because of the unique power requirements of an industrial site, the distributed generation/storage needs of such sites are much different than those of residential, agricultural, or urban sites.

Researchers from Montana Tech and Montana State University hope to demonstrate and analyze the impacts and potential benefits of a distributed wind generation/storage system connected to a rural radial industrial electrical distribution line.

Novel control strategies for maximizing distribution system benefits of a wind generation/storage system will be developed. The project includes the development and application of new wind generation, storage, and control technologies. Testing and demonstration is being conducted at the Luzenac Renewable Energy Park located adjacent to the Luzenac America Yellowstone talc mine 20 miles south of Ennis, Montana, near the Madison River. The park is connected to the radial distribution line near the mine.

The site was selected because it has many of the characteristics of a critically loaded radial line. The mine is at the end of a 12-kV distribution line, which extends approximately 16 miles from a 50-kV substation. The radial line also serves several ranches with large irrigation loads.

As of July 2000, the researchers-Dan Trudnowski and David Westine of Montana Tech, and D. Pierre of Montana State University- were halfway through the first year of the project. The project has started with computer analysis in the first year and will extend to a full demonstration by the third year.

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