A Systematic Evaluation of Wind's Capacity Credit in the Western United States

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The degree to which wind energy can contribute to the capacity needed to meet resource adequacy requirements, also known as capacity credit (CC), can be impacted by many factors. The CC varies regionally with wind resource and correlation to net load and may also vary with wind technology (land-based versus offshore) and turbine specifications. We use a probabilistic resource adequacy tool to systematically assess the CC of multiple technologies for near-term wind deployment across the Western US power system to help inform planning decisions. We find that wind CC varies by weather year and location but averages 16% for land-based turbines and 41% for offshore turbines, with large regional variations. The average wind CC increases to 20% for land-based and 53% for offshore when considering only the sites in the top 25th percentile of capacity factor. The CC of land-based wind is generally lower than its capacity factor, which indicates a low correlation of generation to system needs. However, offshore wind shows a substantially higher CC, which is driven by not only a higher capacity factor but also a greater correlation with system needs.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1107-1121
Number of pages15
JournalWind Energy
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Published 2021. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA. Wind Energy published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-6A20-76794


  • capacity credit
  • offshore wind
  • probabilistic analysis
  • resource adequacy
  • wind energy


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