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CEIC-08-04

"The Spectrum of Power from Utility-Scale Wind Farms and Solar Photovoltaic Arrays"
Jay Apt and Aimee Curtright

Abstract:
The power spectral density of the output of utility-scale wind farms and solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays is examined to provide information on the character of fluctuations in real power output; the power spectrum constrains the character of fill-in power. Both one second and one hour samples from several wind farms and ten second and one minute resolution data from four solar PV arrays are analyzed. The measured output power for wind follows a Kolmogorov spectrum over more than four orders of magnitude, from 30 seconds to 2.6 days. That for PV is significantly flatter; thus fluctuations at short time scales are larger relative to those at long time scales for PV than for wind. While windís capacity factor varies from 32% at the sites examined to 40% at excellent sites, the capacity factor for a 4.6 MW PV array in Arizona is determined to be 19% over two years.

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