Frequency regulation keeps the electrical grid in balance between supply and demand on a second-by-second basis. Gas turbines often do this now. However, researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have found that wind turbines can do the same by changing the pitch of their blades. Thus, a wind farm could perform a crucial service and generate more revenue by delivering and dropping power output at precisely the right moments.
“Because the grid values these services so much, [wind farms] can actually earn more money by curtailing and providing services than if they’re providing energy,” he said.
For example, there are times in the middle of the night when wholesale energy prices are negative because there is excess wind power. At those times, frequency regulation services would be more valuable than providing energy.
The technology for wind farms too do this already exists. However, it has yet to be implemented on a massive scale. Once it is, wind farms could provide frequency regulation faster than fossil fuel plants.