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What plans are being made to integrate load management with dynamic electric grid performance requirements?

Tony Sleva's picture
President Prescient Transmission Systems

Tony Sleva is president and co-founder of Prescient Transmission Systems, where he provides risk assessments and innovative solutions for updating the electric power grid. Tony has more than 50...

  • Member since 2021
  • 33 items added with 8,593 views
  • Apr 9, 2021

In the United States, the goal is to provide 120 Volt, 60 Hertz power to every customer twenty four hours a day, three hundred and sixty five days a year.

So many electric energy sources have been built that 50% of the energy sources are not needed in the spring and fall.  With the introduction of renewable energy sources, traditional paradigms need to be reviewed and revised.

For example, should the load management system be designed so that load is shed in residences if frequency drops below 59.5 hertz or voltage drops below 108 volts for more than 10 seconds?

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Unfortunately the comments to this interesting question seem to follow the unfortunate, but typical path from online discussions of stating the opponent as more or less stupid and cause of all problems. The question and the challenges deserve better.

No doubt, we're facing challenges with the implementing of non-controlable DER's and EV charging stations. But for a nation that is able to reach Mars one would think US should be able to solve these problems.

Looking to Europe - e.g., Denmark where I am from - anyone will find that it IS possible to manage. Wind power alone produced 47% of Denmark's electricity consumption in 2017,[5] and is expected to increase its production by nearly 80% in the years to 2024. And I for my part have not experienced an outage for years.

I have no doubt we will succeed.

But to succeed we need to work together. Energy producers (small and large), DSO's, TSO's, consumers, and regulators. And software vendors. Today, grid control is too passive. We need to aim for predictive and proactive grid control.

Only with complete 24/7/365 analysis of the grid will we be able to optimize.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Apr 14, 2021

Well said, Jens-- appreciate your thoughtful response and insights!

Michael Keller's picture
Michael Keller on Apr 16, 2021

Denmark has some of the highest residential rates in Europe as a direct result of excessive investment in green energy, mostly wind.

Your firm profits from green energy. Pious pronouncements concerning pointing the problems created by green energy are suspect. Further, massive impacts on the environment result directly from over reliance on green energy.

Please note Denmark’s adventures in green energy are utterly insignificant to the planet and only serve to enrich the few at the expense of the many. Energy policies should be rational, and Denmark’s simply are not.

Tony Sleva's picture
Tony Sleva on Apr 19, 2021

Thank you for joining the conversion.  During my professional career, I have designed, operated, and worked in every area of the electric power grid – substations, power lines, nuclear power plants, electric railways, coal mines, and more.

My goal is to change existing paradigms so that the benefits of twenty first century technology are incorporated into the next generation power grid.  As visionaries, we can develop a power grid that is more robust, more economical, and more efficient. As practitioners, we can meld the old and the new into an even better energy delivery system.

Let me know which topic is of most interest and we can explore it together.  If, for example, billing is your interest, we can start with Samuel Insull and Jay Gould, the tycoons who introduced KWH billing.  If underfrequency response to near grid collapse is your interest, we can start with the Great Northeast Blackout of 1965.  If Fault Induced Delayed Voltage Recovery is your interest, we can start with the FIDVR event in Pasadena, CA.  These are exciting times that we can explore together.

Jens Dalsgaard's picture
Jens Dalsgaard on Apr 26, 2021

@Michael Keller.

Whether you and others in the energy sector like the changes towards more sustainable energy sources like wind and solar power and the electric vehicles replacing the old teknology is not really the point here, I believe.

These changes are happening right now and as we just saw from Bidens recent announcement this development will take an even faster pace.

The question is not if but when.

It is our job to make it work. ASAP.

Whether Danish energy costs are higher or lower than other places (don't forget taxes playing a major role here) also is not an issue.

The challenges to grid resilience are happening as we discuss.

And one thing is for sure. The cost of unstable energy supply to the society and to the industry is very high. Utilities are delivering society's competitive edge.

Our utilities and our societies need the people making it happen. Working on the delivering the solutions, not just debating them. The debate is fine but if you want to change the course of energy policies you probably need to enter politics rather than this thread.

Finally; Yes, I work in a company addressing the challenges and delivering the IT solutions. I come from a company with real life experience in a region very much acting as front-runner in the green transition. It is hard to see that this should disqualify my arguments.

The grid problems are the result of too much erratic and unreliable energy being shoved into the grid. As the problem is caused by renewable energy, then renewable energy needs to solve the problem.

Fundamentally, those who cause problems need to be responsible for fixing the problems they create. Somewhat annoying that the article holds those responsible as apparently blameless.

I would say that the grid will morph into a grid of microgrids, where the 110Vac/60Hz only exits locally, maybe only at the individual appliance level, the upper levels being (HV-)DC to maximize power throughput on the existing wires.

Gee, let’s make the US into a third world country, replete with erratic frequency and voltage levels and power only supplied occasionally.

The purpose of the grid is to supply reliable energy, not kowtow to the green energy mafia. The “overbuilding” is the direct result of installing too many erratic and unreliable green energy facilities. Ask Texas how that works out.


Kevin Cameron's picture
Kevin Cameron on Apr 14, 2021

The DERs did what they were expected to do in TX, it was the LNG gas valves freezing that caused most of the problem.

I expect us to go to ~ 300% of current demand in DERs over the next couple of decades, and a lot of it will be local to use, which avoids the grid failure problem.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Apr 14, 2021

Kevin, no one expected half of Texas's 10,700 wind turbines to be rendered useless by cold weather. The only reason the disaster wasn't worse was because they were contributing such an insignificant fraction of the state's power.

You believe Texas can avoid the grid failure problem by building more "DERs", and making the problem worse next time? I don't think so.

Renewables - the gift that keeps on taking.

Kevin Cameron's picture
Kevin Cameron on Jun 9, 2021

The trick to renewables is to overbuild so you always have enough.

Fossil fuels are a finite resource, expensive and running out,.

The Sun gives reliably.

Michael Keller's picture
Michael Keller on Apr 14, 2021

Over reliance on green energy was a contributory problem to the Texas debacle. However, the financial community exploited the crisis, aiding and abetted by ERCOT who sanctioned exorbitant and utterly unjustified energy prices.

Please note, I do not object to wind energy per se. The resource does have value but mindless over reliance is a major problem. Wind and solar need cost effective methods to store energy to better integrate with the needs of the grid, and ultimately the consumer.

In ERCOT there are significant load resources that bid into the responsive reserve service that do just what you describe.  They drop out when frequency drops below a certain limit.  Unlike voluntary programs that take up to 30 minutes to deploy, these sites are equipped with Under Frequency Relays that automatically and immediately respond to system frequency. The last I checked, load resources had maxed out the 40% limit on non-controllable load resources providing responsive reserves. This technology, however, seems to be cost prohibitive for residential customers.

In addition to these load resources, there is a penetration of the somewhat discretionary loads such as EV’s and battery storage that can avoid peak hours and be charged when the system is less stressed.

These technologies address the intraday and not the seasonal issues associated with capacity scarcity.  The low demand in the spring and fall provides a window opportunity for planned outages and maintenance of the generating units. 

I agree with your point that new technologies, and renewable resources are changing the traditional system planning landscape and we need to be proactive to make changes to allow for innovations.  

Other possibilities for revising traditional paradigms and maximizing utility profits:

  • Automatically raising customer rates, on a quarterly basis, to compensate for poor earnings numbers
  • Maintenance shedding - limiting the number of maintenance calls to each service area on an annual basis
  • Service shedding - ending electricity service in areas where home solar has made utility electricity unprofitable
  • Retail power purchase auctions - would give utilities the option of pre-selling electrical service for the following month to the highest bidder

We can do that without the electric system. Voltage and frequency monitors are cheap in quantity, they can be built into appliances, etc. 

We need to avoid the Germany problem and randomize to some extent the point that stuff shuts off and starts back up. 

We can also think about limiting demand with the latching relay in most AMI meters when a high load day is expected. 

Both of these options limit cyber security issues to some extent. 

There are a dozen different ways to do this beyond these suggestions. 

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