- Dec 23, 2020 4:45 pm GMT
This article provides some very insightful, objective and trustworthy findings with regard to the California outages this past Summer and the need to improve grid planning to accommodate the energy transition. If you are not familiar with Arne Olsen of E3, one of the authors of this article, then I recommend you lookup his works - they are very methodical and well documented, based on the E3 reports I read from PJM and New England. IMO, his credibility and integrity in providing honest, objective, proficient and complete analysis is beyond reproach.
Here are my key takeaways from the article:
Renewable energy was not to blame for the blackouts, according to the state's root cause analysis and the views of informed observers
the events did shine a spotlight on a key limitation of renewable energy sources: that they can only generate when the resource is available. Additional resources will be needed to ensure reliable, around-the-clock electricity systems.
Recent studies by E3 and others have concluded that California will require up to 35 GW of "firm" capacity — generation that can operate whenever needed — through 2050 on a deeply-decarbonized grid. Similar conclusions are reached for New England and the Pacific Northwest.
Multi-day energy storage systems such as "green" hydrogen or Form Energy's aqueous air battery can function as alternative sources of firm capacity for highly renewable and deeply decarbonized grids. These systems are quite different from today's battery technologies, unlocking the potential to cost-effectively store excess wind and solar production for days or even weeks
New tools are needed to plan low cost, reliable, clean grids with long-duration energy storage
many of the planning models used by utilities and their regulators today are not well-suited to consider the role of long-duration energy storage and multi-day load flexibility as a complement to variable renewable generation.
looking forward, the industry needs another quantum leap in modeling to capture the full operational value of long-duration storage and very high renewable penetrations while ensuring reliability under a wide range of complex, interconnected system conditions. [RJB: A Grid Services Framework is needed to define the capabilities of these resources; Grid operators will be looking to acquire and dispatch "grid services" as part of FERC Order 2222]
optimizing the use of long duration storage introduces significant additional complexity that is well beyond what current models can handle.
planning models need to better capture the hour-to-hour dynamics of the grid over contiguous days, considering all potential operating conditions rather than a snapshot of a few hours. Form Energy's research shows that planning investments over a time horizon that captures the hour-to-hour dynamics of demand and renewable energy supply for a full year can have a significant impact on utility portfolio costs and reliability. [RJB: Totally agree on the hourly granularity aspect - this is needed to model solar production throughout the year]
planning models need to better capture key system constraints such as local reliability challenges with greater fidelity. E3's research and Form Energy's research highlight how meeting demand in certain constrained pockets of the grid requires a clear understanding of the hour-to-hour demand in those pockets over periods from days to weeks. [RJB: Totally agree, locational granularity and accuracy becomes much more important as the energy supply becomes even more distributed/decentralized with DER]
many of today's planning models don't capture the full hour-to-hour dynamics of the grid across days or weeks or extreme weather events during the portfolio design stage, they are unable to realize the full value of technologies that arbitrage energy production and prices across days or weeks and that manage the risks posed by extreme weather.
Long duration, multi-day storage is garnering increased attention, investment, and procurements, increasing the importance of the tools necessary to accurately plan for it
The stakes are high. As the California blackouts demonstrate, there is little room for error.
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