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Are wind and solar energy reliable?

Yes, grid operators already reliably integrate large amounts of renewable energy into our electricity grid. These Regional Transmission Operators (RTO) deploy energy resources in least-cost order until the demand is met.  Wind and solar are chosen first because they are zero-fuel-cost resources. 

A diverse grid offers a safety net during extreme weather or other circumstances.

Wind changes tend to be gradual and predictable, making it easy to accommodate compared to sudden outages that can occur with other resources.

Solar panels can still function in the absence of direct sunlight. Solar panels can absorb both direct and indirect sunlight to produce electricity. When there is less sunlight available, there is less for the PV cells to absorb, and therefore less electricity can be produced. Although solar panels do not produce electricity at night, solutions such as battery storage and net metering allow users to access electricity previously produced or electricity from other sources on the grid to meet their energy needs. 

Solar panels are tested for durability to ensure they can withstand hurricanes and severe hail.  Before installation, solar panels are required to withstand tests that simulate severe storms. Manufacturers are held accountable by organizations such as the International PV Quality Assurance Taskforce, which develops standardized tests to assure that solar panels can survive the following and more:

  • Mechanical stressors (hail, being walked on, etc.)
  • Excessive cold or heat
  • Humidity

Generation + Transmission = Reliability
Electric grid operators make sure the demand for electricity is balanced with the most cost-effective supply resources at all times. The diversity of generation resources in the MISO footprint, combined with adequate transmission to deliver those resources and match consumer demand, help prevent rolling black-outs and outages due to extreme events like polar vortices. MISO’s strength is in its diversity - of both generation, and consumer demand across its broad regional footprint.

Several organizations are responsible for ensuring the delivery of electricity to consumers every minute of every day. Specifically, the Regional Transmission Organization (MISO), state utility commissions, utilities, and at the national level, the North American Electric Reliability Commission (NERC). Each organization has a specific role, yet they work together to ensure there is sufficient generation and transmission to deliver electricity to meet demand in the region. 

Read more about reliability on our Blog:

View our state-by-state reliability factsheets here.