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Extreme Cold Capacity Factor (ECCF)

Doug Houseman's picture
Visionary and innovator in the utility industry and grid modernization Burns & McDonnell

I have a broad background in utilities and energy. I worked for Capgemini in the Energy Practice for more than 15 years. During that time I rose to the position of CTO of the 12,000 person...

  • Member since 2017
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  • Feb 25, 2021

I think we need to create ratings based on historical information for rating different generation types in extreme cold. I took a quick look at the graphs I have from 2012, 2014, 2019, and 2021 – a total of about 18 days and here is what my semi-scientific ratings would be. (Someone with access to a lot more data, and a lot more time needs to do this for real – there are probably 2 or 3 PhDs here or a couple of SBIR grants or maybe even a DOE contract)

Hydro-electric – 95%
Nuclear – 96%
Coal – 95%
Fuel oil – 90%
Natural gas – 50%
Wind – 11%
Solar – 3%

These are all the technologies that I have enough data to create a rating. Take the nameplate capacity and multiply by the extreme cold capacity factor (ECCF) and you have a number that will be the average hourly output during the 4–7-day event.

If you had 100 MW of each you would expect an aggregate average hourly production of 350 MW. Solar would be higher in daylight, but not produce at night, wind would be lower in the first day of the event and increase in the following days.

Someone needs to really dig into this and figure it out for real. I claim the trademark on this term.

Doug Houseman's picture
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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Feb 25, 2021

Really interesting idea, Doug-- would love to see someone dive into the whole dataset. 

I wonder if also there's case to be made for this in other events too-- hurricanes in the southeast? Blizzards in the north? Heatwaves in the West? 

Doug Houseman's picture
Doug Houseman on Feb 25, 2021

Every control area, should have ratings for any extreme that they see, and some that might only be a fantasy (polar vortex in Hawaii - physics says it is possible, but highly unlikely). Ideally over time this you get the factors down by plant, realizing that most change as they age, or get further from the last maintenance period. 

I would love to see:

Spring, summer, fall and winter factors for normal days

Heat wave

Polar vortex

Day with no wind

Day with snow on everything


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