Study Finds Power Flexibility is Key

Posted by Eric Haun
Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Any country can reach high shares of wind, solar power cost-effectively, study shows transformation of power systems is necessary to guarantee flexibility over long term, but this will be more difficult in some markets than in others

Wind power and solar photovoltaics (PV) are crucial to meeting future energy needs while decarbonizing the power sector. Deployment of both technologies has expanded rapidly in recent years - one of the few bright spots in an otherwise-bleak picture of clean energy progress - and IEA scenarios indicate that this trend will continue for decades. However, the inherent variability of wind power and solar PV is raising concerns: Can power systems remain reliable and cost-effective while supporting high shares of variable renewable energy (VRE)? And if so, how?

A landmark study released today by the International Energy Agency addresses these concerns and confirms that integrating high shares - i.e., 30 percent of annual electricity production or more - of wind and solar PV in power systems can come at little additional cost in the long term. However, costs depend on how flexible the system currently is and what strategy is adopted to develop system flexibility over the long term. Managing this transition will be more difficult for some countries or power systems than others, the study says.

"Integrating high shares of variable renewables is really about transforming our power systems," IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said as she launched The Power of Transformation - Wind, Sun and the Economics of Flexible Power Systems, the latest in a series of IEA reports shedding light on the challenges and opportunities of integrating VRE into power systems globally.

"This new IEA analysis calls for a change of perspective," she explained.

"In the classical approach, variable renewables are added to an existing system without considering all available options for adapting it as a whole.

This approach misses the point. Integration is not simply about adding wind and solar on top of 'business as usual'. We need to transform the system as a whole to do this cost-effectively."

Currently, wind and solar PV account for just about 3 percent of world electricity generation, but a few countries already feature very high

shares: In Italy, Germany, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, and Denmark, wind and solar PV accounted respectively from around 10 to more than 30 percent of electricity generation in 2012 on an annual basis.

The report says that for any country, integrating the first 5-10 percent of VRE generation poses no technical or economic challenges at all, provided that three conditions are met: uncontrolled local "hot spots" of VRE deployment must be avoided, VRE must contribute to stabilizing the grid when needed, and VRE forecasts must be used effectively. These lower levels of integration are possible within existing systems because the same flexible resources that power systems already use to cope with variability of demand can be put to work to help integrate variability from wind and solar. Such resources can be found in the form of flexible power plants, grid infrastructure, storage and demand-side response.

Going beyond the first few percent to reach shares of more than 30 percent will require a transformation of the system, however. This transformation has three main requirements: deploying variable renewables in a system-friendly way using state-of-the art technology, improving the day-to-day operation of power systems and markets, and finally investing in additional flexible resources.

The challenges of such transformation depend on whether a power system is "stable," meaning no significant investments are needed to meet demand in the short term, or "dynamic" which requires significant investments short-term, to meet growing power demand or replace old assets.

The publication helps to clarify the very different perception of wind and solar around the globe. In stable systems, such as those in Europe, the existing asset base will help to provide sufficient flexibility to increase VRE generation further. However, in the absence of demand growth, increasing VRE generation in stable systems inevitably comes at the detriment of incumbent generators and puts the system as a whole under economic stress.

This outcome is based on fundamental economics; market effects are thus not only a consequence of variability. The transformation challenge in stable systems is twofold: scaling up the new, flexible system while scaling down the inflexible part of the old.

Governments with stable systems face tough policy questions about how to handle the distributional effects, in particular if other power plants need to be retired before the end of their lifetimes and, if so, who will pay for stranded assets. Meeting these challenges will only be possible through a collaborative effort by policy makers and the industry. In any case, "these surmountable challenges should not let us lose sight of the benefits renewables can bring for energy security and fighting dangerous climate change. If OECD countries want to maintain their position as front runners in this industry, they will need to tackle these questions head-on," Ms. Van der Hoeven said.

By contrast, in "dynamic" power systems such as in India, China, Brazil and other emerging economies, wind power and solar PV can be cost-effective solutions to meet incremental demand. VRE grid integration can - and must - be a priority from the onset. With proper investments, a flexible system can be built from the very start, in parallel with the deployment of variable renewables. "Emerging economies really have an opportunity here. They can leap-frog to a 21st-century power system - and they should reap the benefits," the IEA Executive Director concluded.

iea.org
 

Maritime Reporter October 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Technology

Sapurakencana Wins 3 Petronas Oil blocks

SapuraKencana Petroleum Berhad today announced that it has entered into Sale and Purchase Agreements to acquire the entire interest of PETRONAS in 3 blocks offshore

Time-out for Kwanza Drilling

Statoil has decided to cancel the Stena Carron rig contract after fulfilling the work commitments in the Statoil-operated blocks 38 and 39 in the Kwanza basin offshore Angola.

Maritime Reporter @ 75: The Daily Cartoon

Maritime Reporter & Engineering News was founded by John J. O'Malley (1905-1980) in 1939, and today ranks as the world's largest audited trade publication in the world serving the maritime industry,

Energy

Sapurakencana Wins 3 Petronas Oil blocks

SapuraKencana Petroleum Berhad today announced that it has entered into Sale and Purchase Agreements to acquire the entire interest of PETRONAS in 3 blocks offshore

Kemp Succeeds Semple at Wood Group

Wood Group announced following changes to its senior management team. Alan Semple, chief financial officer (CFO) has advised the board that he intends to

Baker Hughes to Present at Wells Fargo's 2014 Energy Symposium

Baker Hughes Incorporated announced today that the Company's Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, Derek Mathieson, will present at Wells Fargo's 2014 Energy Symposium on Wednesday,

News

USCG Assist Duck Hunters Near Harrington Beach Park

The Coast Guard and the Port Washington and Cedar Grove Fire Departments came to the assistance of two duck hunters on Lake Michigan Friday. The names of those involved are not being released.

Sapurakencana Wins 3 Petronas Oil blocks

SapuraKencana Petroleum Berhad today announced that it has entered into Sale and Purchase Agreements to acquire the entire interest of PETRONAS in 3 blocks offshore

Kemp Succeeds Semple at Wood Group

Wood Group announced following changes to its senior management team. Alan Semple, chief financial officer (CFO) has advised the board that he intends to

Offshore Energy

Sapurakencana Wins 3 Petronas Oil blocks

SapuraKencana Petroleum Berhad today announced that it has entered into Sale and Purchase Agreements to acquire the entire interest of PETRONAS in 3 blocks offshore

Time-out for Kwanza Drilling

Statoil has decided to cancel the Stena Carron rig contract after fulfilling the work commitments in the Statoil-operated blocks 38 and 39 in the Kwanza basin offshore Angola.

Update: Explosion in the Gulf of Mexico

An explosion occurred aboard a production platform Thursday at West Delta 105, operated by Fieldwood Energy, resulting in one fatality and three injured. The Bureau

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Naval Architecture Navigation Offshore Oil Pipelines Pod Propulsion Port Authority Sonar
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.2748 sec (4 req/sec)