The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.
Untitled Document

PJM Grid Operators: We Can Handle 30 Percent Renewable Energy Integration, And Here's How

Experts believe that the PJM Interconnection system, which encompasses all or parts of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia, can handle up to 30 percent of its energy from wind and solar without "any significant reliability issues," assuming transmission upgrades and additional regulation reserves — and at the same time reducing costs and reliance on its costlier conventional generation fleet.

Twelve PJM member states have renewable portfolio standards ranging from 18-25 percent, most with solar carve-outs. PJM projects its own wind and solar requirements will continue to steadily build from roughly 4 GW combined wind and solar in 2010 to 33 GW of wind and over 9 GW of solar by 2029. [Update: PJM's latest Regional Transmission Expansion Plan suggests it'll need to accommodate roughly 38 GW of renewables to meet all those states' RPS targets by 2028.] To get their arms around this rapidly increasing amount of wind and solar energy in its infrastructure back in the spring of 2011 PJM stakeholders requested a study, led by GE Energy, to assess the operational, planning, and market impacts of adding large-scale integration of wind and solar power over the next 15 years. The study covered how it would take shape and be operated, what transmission upgrades would be required, capacity values, and general overall impact on PJM operations. Ten scenarios were explored, from simply maintaining 2011 levels of 2 percent renewable integration, to meeting a 14 percent RPS mandate by 2026, up to a maximum of 30 percent energy annually from solar and wind.

Preliminary results were disclosed last fall, and final results were presented last week. The bottom line: PJM says its system "would not have any significant reliability issues operating with up to 30 percent of its energy [from renewables]" (note: that's energy, not capacity) though it will require significant additional transmission (nearly $14 billion) and regulation reserves (up to 1.5 GW).

Here's a shortlist of the findings, which are summarized here and discussed in more detail here and here:

  • While suggesting that independent system operators (ISOs) and regional transmission organizations (RTOs) are better suited to handle integration, PJM acknowledges its big footprint would "greatly reduce" variability-related challenges, such as weather diversity and power forecasting/scheduling.
  • Every scenario they explored would reduce PJM's fuel costs and variable operation/maintenance costs, and lowered average locational marginal prices.
  • Top-end 30 percent renewables integration would mean more cycling on PJM's existing generation fleet and would lower coal and combined-cycle generation under all scenarios. Renewables' lower capacity factors would result in lower revenues for conventional generation resources, but "these increased costs were small relative to the value of the fuel displacement."
  • They also looked at energy storage and demand response, finding that 1 GW of storage or demand response used in place of generator resources for spinning reserves (in the 30 percent renewables scenario) reduced total system production costs by more than $17 million annually, or $1.99/MWh ($17.41/kW-year).

PJM Wind and Solar Capacity by State for 14 percent RPS Scenario. (Credit: PJM/GE Energy)

The study takes into account the technology likely incorporated into future wind farms, e.g. larger, taller, and more powerful turbines, that will have higher capacity factors and effective load carrying capabilities than what PJM already uses. It also touches on some impact to (ISOs) and RTOs such as larger balancing areas, shorter scheduling intervals, and centralized wind power forecasting. However, the study pointedly does not analyze the economics of it all or compare the capital investments required. Nor does it get into transmission costs, e.g. generator interconnections and upgrades to mitigate voltage problems, and it didn't run simulations to evaluate frequency and voltage control issues. To the energy storage angle, the study didn't assess the economics of the regulation market, suggesting market price of regulation and capital costs will ultimately decide viability.

As a follow-up, the study suggests further examination of reserve requirements and improving resource flexibility, including adding active power controls to wind and solar plants. Recommendations will be explored in more detail at future stakeholder meetings, likely for the PJM's Intermittent Resources Task Force, which meets roughly every two months (the next meeting is March 17).

Untitled Document

RELATED ARTICLES

100-MW Kenyan Wind Farm Will Help Power Africa

Renewable Energy World Editors As part of President Obama’s Power Africa initiative, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. Government’s development finance institution, announced that it committed $233 million in debt financing to ...

Regional News from the July/August 2015 Digital Edition of Renewable Energy World

Renewable Energy World Editors EcoFasten Solar announced that it launched a new mounting "Rock-It System" that it would be displaying during Intersolar. Product compliance was determined through testing per UL Subject 2703, which reviews integr...

With 1.6 GW of Wind Capacity Installed in Q2, American Wind Power Continues To Ramp Up in 2015

David Ward, American Wind Energy Association With 1,661 megawatts (MW) of newly installed wind turbines coming online during the second quarter of 2015 and more than 13,600 MW under construction, American wind power continues to increase its contribution to the U.S. e...

Some Hope for US Renewable Energy Tax Credits As Extension Bill Passes Committee

Vince Font In a lopsided 23-3 vote, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee voted yesterday to extend a number of renewable energy production tax credits through the end of 2016. The vote allows developers of wind, geothermal, biomass, land...
Jim is Contributing Editor for RenewableEnergyWorld.com, covering the solar and wind beats. He previously was associate editor for Solid State Technology and Photovoltaics World, and has covered semiconductor manufacturing and related industries, ...

CURRENT MAGAZINE ISSUE

Volume 18, Issue 4
1507REW_C11

STAY CONNECTED

To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:

SOCIAL ACTIVITY

Tweet the Editors! @megcichon @jennrunyon

FEATURED PARTNERS



EVENTS

Doing Business in South Africa – in partnership with GWEC, the Glob...

Wind Energy in South Africa has been expanding dramatically, growing fro...

Presenting at Infocast's Utility Scale Solar Summit 2015

Oct. 21, 2015 4:30-5:15pm Albie Fong, National Director, Solar Frontier ...

F- Cell 2015

The F-Cell is a forum and exhibition for producers and users of t...

COMPANY BLOGS

Behind Every Good Decision

When something about your business isn’t working, you set out to c...

Clean Energy Patents Maintain High Levels in First Quarter, Solar L...

U.S. patents for Clean Energy technologies from the first quarter of 201...

An Overwhelming Paradox

I’m sure we’re all very familiar with the feeling of being o...

NEWSLETTERS

Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now  

 

FEATURED PARTNERS