PJM Grid Can Handle 30% Solar and Wind Integration


PJM Interconnection releases final results from a study that assesses what increased penetration of wind and solar will mean for its grid. According to the study, the PJM system can incorporate up to 30% of its energy from renewables.


As Hawaii struggles to ensure its grid is able to accept the increasing amounts of solar going into it, other states are also examining the issue. Regional transmission organization PJM Interconnection commissioned a study to assess what increased penetrations of wind and solar will mean for its grid, and the final results are in.


The PJM Interconnection system encompasses a large area, covering all or parts of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and DC. This study was motivated by the expectation of a lot more renewable energy coming into the grid in the next 10 to 15 years, because of Renewable Portfolio Standards in many states in the area.


Renewable Energy World reported that the study found the PJM system “can handle up to 30 percent of its energy from wind and solar without ‘any significant reliability issues,’ assuming transmission upgrades and additional regulation reserves — and at the same time reducing costs and reliance on its costlier conventional generation fleet.”


Key findings from the study


  • With up to $13.7 billion in transmission expansion and as much as an additional 1,500 MW in reserves, the PJM system would not have any significant reliability issues operating with up to 30% of its energy (as distinct from capacity) provided by wind and solar power.

  • PJM’s large geographic footprint will help integrate wind and solar generation, because it “greatly reduces the magnitude of variability-related challenges.”  

  • Every scenario the study examined resulted in lower PJM fuel and Variable Operation and Maintenance (VOM) costs, plus lower average Locational Marginal Prices (LMPs).

  • With renewable generation, there would be a cost increase because of more starting up and ramping down of the existing fleet of generators. However, these increased costs would be small compared to the value of the fuel displacement.

Given the increasing amounts of renewables expected in the PJM area, these results are significant. Follow-up studies are expected to explore the issue further.