Planning for Large Solar Energy Inputs to the Utility Grid

Renewable energy can be added to the grid without negative effects on grid reliability. A long debated issue within the utility industry, a recent government study has provided clarity and answers.

Solar energy, transmission

RE Safely and Reliably on Utility Grids

Based on a 6 months study by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the results show that the ability of the grid to respond to changes in system frequency is not affected by intermittent power source inputs. This includes not only renewable sources but also traditional fossil fuel sources, which are also intermittent base load generation.

From the report, “The purpose of the study is not to determine how much of any particular resource can be reliably integrated into an interconnection, but to develop an objective methodology to evaluate the reliability impacts of varying resource mixes including increased amounts of renewable resources. The study accomplishes this objective by developing and testing tools that can be used to assess and plan for the operational requirements of the grid.

The tools also can be used in operating and planning the transmission system and designing markets to fully integrate and reliably operate the mix of generation and transmission resources deployed in the future. Finally, the tools can be used to identify and deploy the appropriate use of new technologies, such as demand response and energy storage devices in concert with renewable generation resources, in achieving reliable operation of the bulk power system. “

The report provides the myriad of developing smart grid technology companies and the solar industry a more accurate blueprint for a higher functioning grid that can eventually receive large amounts of renewable energy in a safe and reliable manner.

FERC worked with the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on the six-month study, which is available here.

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