Perceptions of Variable Energy Integration Innovations in the Pacific Northwest Power Sector – An Application of the Diffusion of Innovation Framework Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_projects/t148fj637

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  • Wind and solar energy levels are expected to increase in the Pacific Northwest as a result of maturing renewable energy technologies, and state and federal policies. Because wind and solar energy is intermittent, only producing electricity when weather conditions permit, the integration of these resources has posed challenges to operators of the electricity grid. These challenges are associated with managing the balance of electricity supply and demand in real time. This paper investigates which innovations are likely to be deployed by balancing authorities, the entities responsible for maintaining demand-supply equilibrium, in Oregon and Washington in order to address the integration issue. The possible adoption of an energy imbalance market, energy storage systems, and demand response programs are examined by analyzing interview responses of managers of each of Oregon and Washington’s ten balancing authorities through the lens of the diffusion of innovations framework. By focusing on the framework’s five innovation perception categories the study finds that an energy imbalance market offers the strongest perceived benefit and least perceived cost of the three integration innovations analyzed. Nonetheless, the deployment of a regional imbalance market faces significant challenges associated with perceptions held by the region’s public utilities. Other innovations are currently perceived as cost-prohibitive.
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