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Capgemini - SES- Smart Grid Operational Services - The Impact of Renewables on the Electric Grid POV (GR)

Capgemini - SES- Smart Grid Operational Services - The Impact of Renewables on the Electric Grid POV (GR)

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Published by Gord Reynolds

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Published by: Gord Reynolds on Mar 22, 2011
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the way we see it
Energy, Utilities and Chemicals
The Impact of Renewableson the Electric Grid
These four categories of renewablesbring different issues to the gridand have different levels of gridfriendliness. The location of theconnection and the ability to producepower on demand makes thedifference in how friendly they are.
The S-Cent and the V-Cent are bothconnected to the transmission gridand have the ability to take advantageof the traditional control systems andmonitoring. The existing SCADAsystems and protection schemes arecapable of supporting both of thesetypes of generation. S-Cent is sosimilar to conventional generationthat it offers few or no issues inintegration into the grid. Since itis so simple to integrate, where thefuels are available and economicallyviable, it should be considered as thefirst choice in deployment. In mostcases, the economic model for S-Centmatches that of conventional fossilgeneration. A sample of the facilitiesthat fit into this include:Large wood-fired power plants1.Garbage and post consumer waste2.incineratorsLandfill gas generation facilities3.Pumped hydro facilities4.Large hydro facilities5.Run of the river current farms.6.These facilities offer very fewchallenges from a grid managementpoint of view, but they do offerother challenges for site approvaland operations. In some areas,incinerators that were installed onlya few years ago are being shutdownbecause of protests by people who livenear the facility.One very clean garbage incineratorin a major city has been shut downafter only 8 years of operation becausepeople living in the area did notThe regulators are coming, theregulators are coming and they aregoing to force changes in our industry.With political requirements to reducecarbon, deal with global warming,be greener, allow local participationin the power grid, and try to managethe cost of energy, regulators arechanging the requirements for whatis allowed on the grid. Renewablegeneration is the buzz word todayand regulators do not want to be leftbehind. In the US, more than 30states now have renewable portfoliostandards—mandatory percentages of power that have to be produced anddelivered from renewable sources byspecific dates. In some cases, the RPSrequirements kick in as soon as 2010,in others the first real requirement isin 2025. But in any case, in the US,the state requirements will requirethat an additional 1 percent of thetotal electric power consumed inthe US be produced by renewablesources each year. In Europe, triple20 will force a similar requirement.The manufacturers of renewablegeneration devices are all runningat full capacity and increasing thatcapacity. GE Energy will doublewindmill production in 2008, againin 2009 and yet again in 2010 andthey are completely sold out until2012. Other manufacturers are ina similar situation and the type of renewable generation they producedoes not matter. Incentives andsubsidies, rather than real economics,are driving the sales, as well asregulatory requirements.This installation of renewables willnot be without problems. None areimpossible to deal with, but someare very expensive to deal with andothers just take time and energy.Renewables will have an impact onthe whole utility value chain and howit operates. No utility is exempt, andit does not matter if the market isfully regulated or fully de-regulated,there will be an impact. In some casesit is an engineering issue, in othersit is a people issue. No generationwill be installed and operate withoutfacing some issues and problems.To really look at the impact of renewable sources on the electric grid,you need to separate the renewablesinto several categories. In thisdocument, we have made a simplisticseparation into the following categories:
Schedulable central station1.generation (S-Cent)
– Thisincludes biomass and otheralternative fuels that can be usedin place of fossil fuels, and existingfossil fuel plants may be able to beretrofitted to consume them. Forinstance, wood chips replacingcoal, ethanol replacing oil, orbiogas replacing natural gas.
Variable Central Station2.Generation (V-Cent)
– Wind farmsare the best known examples of thisclass of asset and are the mostwidely deployed renewablegeneration sources today producingelectricity. Large solar and wavepower installations also fit into thiscategory. The assumption is thatV-Cent would be connected to thetransmission (high voltage) network.
Schedulable Distributed3.Generation (S-Dist)
– This issmall scale generation that usesrenewable fuels; normally, thegeneration facilities would befound on farms, in businesses andin homes. One good examplewould be wood-fired combinedheat and power. The expectationwould be that the generation canbe turned on and off as needed.
Variable Distributed Generation4.(V-Dist)
– This is the category thatmost environmentalists meanwhen they discuss the nextgeneration of the electric network.Solar Cells on a homeowner’s roof,or a small windmill in thebackyard or barnyard.
Energy, Utilities and Chemicals the way we see it
The Impact of Renewables on the Electric Grid
kind of forecasting. Forecasting theoutput of V-Cent is critical, as itdetermines when to fire up the largefossil plants to support days whenthe wind is either going to blowtoo strongly or not at all, or as inthe case of photovoltaic, when thestorms are rolling across the serviceterritory hiding the sun. The globalunderstanding of cloud paths anddetailed wind forecasts is less thanperfect, and as such, the impact of weather on V-Cent is likewise, i.e. lessthan perfect.This less than perfect understandingmeans that the utility has to be readyto react to changes in power outputon a very short timeline; in somecases the swing can be hundreds of megawatts in a matter of minutes.If utilities want to see this powerswing in operation, visit Tennet thegrid operator in the Netherlands andwatch the power flow on a stormy dayon the interconnector with Germany.Because conventional generationdoes not react as quickly as V-Centtypically does, the grid operator onthe transmission network has todeal with rapid changes in voltageon the grid. In some cases, wherethe penetration of wind or solar issmall, the rapid swing is a smallpart of the overall power flow andcan be safely ignored. In Texas andSpain this is not the case, and bothhave almost lost the transmissiongrid to blackouts because of windpower—in Texas it was the suddenand unexpected drop in wind powerproduction and in Spain it was toomuch wind generation on a wonderfulspring Sunday when people decidedto go outside and shut off most of their electric devices and lights. Swiftaction by the grid operator saved thegrid in both cases, but it was close.Geographically wind blows where itblows and we do not have the skillsto modify the global weather patternsto put the wind where we want it tolike the noise of the trucks and thelook of the facility in their industrialneighborhood. The facility exceededevery standard that could be applied,and trucks were only allowed todeliver trash from 10 AM to 4 PM, atime when few people were home.
Like the S-Cent facilities, they areconnected to the high voltage networkand produce large amounts of power.Also, like the S-Cent facilities, theyare highly visible on the horizonand cannot be hidden from vieweasily. Unlike the S-Cent facilitiesthey run when the environment isright, and not when they are needed.For example, wind has to blow fastenough, and yet not too fast in orderto generate power. In most cases theyoffer power from 7 to 40 percent of the time, depending on the locationand the type of resource. Thesesystems require some level of othergeneration to provide support, sincethe power they produce comes andgoes on a change in the weather,and the load they support may not.The estimate in Colorado is thatit takes one megawatt of runninggas-fired generation to support 2megawatts of wind generation inthe state. This ratio has a big impacton the carbon footprint of the finaldelivered power. While it is cleanerthan a new coal-fired power plant, theestimate is that to get the equivalentof 2 megawatts of new coal-firedpower plant, 1 megawatt of gas-fired generation and 2 megawatts of wind generation have to be installed.Large variable central generation canbe monitored by existing SCADAsystems and controlled by existingenergy management systems thatare in operation by the transmissionoperator today. What the existingsystems cannot do is to predict withany level of confidence what theoutput of wind power will be 24 to48 hours in advance. New systemshave to be installed to support thisgenerate power. People mostly do notlike to live in areas with strong andsteady winds, it makes living tougher.This means that in most cases thelocations that have the best wind arenot the places that have high densitiesof people or power consumption. Forthe grid operator, that means buildingextensions to the transmission grid.High voltage transmission lines arenot cheap—they can cost millionsof euros a kilometer; for example,at AEP, one project is budgeted at5.5 million dollars a mile. Add tothe cost the fact that wind farmsonly generate about 40 percent of the time, and the transmission linkto support a plan like the Pickensplan (a plan to replace all the fossilgeneration in the US with windpower and use the natural gas thatcurrently makes electricity and heatshomes to power automobiles) in theUS would need to connect to threetimes the number of megawatts of wind power than it would for coalgeneration. In other words, to usewind to provide ancillary services(e.g. maintaining voltage, frequencyand the integrity of the AlternatingCurrent (AC) wave form – all requiredto let device work right and not burnout)—by spreading the wind farmsover a wide area that receives strongwind—would cost at least threetimes the cost of transmission fora new nuclear plant. No one likeslarge steel towers in their backyard,so you can expect that even if people embrace wind mills, theywill pan the transmission corridors.With these new large transmissionlinks, there are issues with powerquality and voltage management onthe transmission network that didnot exist before. Proper ancillaryservices can help fix this, but thetechnology to use one wind farmto support another wind farm forancillary services, like voltagesupport or frequency managementis not commercially available yet.The global industry has worked very

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