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Grid flexibility and storage required to achieve very high penetration of variable renewable electricity

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  • Denholm, Paul
  • Hand, Maureen

Abstract

We examine the changes to the electric power system required to incorporate high penetration of variable wind and solar electricity generation in a transmission constrained grid. Simulations were performed in the Texas, US (ERCOT) grid where different mixes of wind, solar photovoltaic and concentrating solar power meet up to 80% of the electric demand. The primary constraints on incorporation of these sources at large scale are the limited time coincidence of the resource with normal electricity demand, combined with the limited flexibility of thermal generators to reduce output. An additional constraint in the ERCOT system is the current inability to exchange power with neighboring grids. By themselves, these constraints would result in unusable renewable generation and increased costs. But a highly flexible system - with must-run baseload generators virtually eliminated - allows for penetrations of up to about 50% variable generation with curtailment rates of less than 10%. For penetration levels up to 80% of the system's electricity demand, keeping curtailments to less than 10% requires a combination of load shifting and storage equal to about one day of average demand.

Suggested Citation

  • Denholm, Paul & Hand, Maureen, 2011. "Grid flexibility and storage required to achieve very high penetration of variable renewable electricity," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 1817-1830, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:39:y:2011:i:3:p:1817-1830
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. DeCesaro, Jennifer & Porter, Kevin & Milligan, Michael, 2009. "Wind Energy and Power System Operations: A Review of Wind Integration Studies to Date," The Electricity Journal, Elsevier, vol. 22(10), pages 34-43, December.
    2. Denholm, Paul & Margolis, Robert M., 2007. "Evaluating the limits of solar photovoltaics (PV) in electric power systems utilizing energy storage and other enabling technologies," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(9), pages 4424-4433, September.
    3. Denholm, Paul & Margolis, Robert M., 2008. "Land-use requirements and the per-capita solar footprint for photovoltaic generation in the United States," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(9), pages 3531-3543, September.
    4. Denholm, Paul & Margolis, Robert M., 2007. "Evaluating the limits of solar photovoltaics (PV) in traditional electric power systems," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(5), pages 2852-2861, May.
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    Keywords

    Wind Solar Energy storage;

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