Global Perspective on Integrating Renewable Energy into the Power Grid

integrating renewable energy into the power grid

New Report on Integrating Renewable Energy Into the Power Grid (Solar Thermal Magazine)

Over the last decade, the development of renewable energy installations across many countries has surged. Given the stochastic nature of renewable energy sources, some countries are tackling the challenges of integrating larger shares of renewable energy into the power grid systems. This global market insight looks into some of the best practices adopted by developed countries on their ability to integrate effectively large shares of renewable energy into the grid as well as understand the changing utility business landscape and evolving trends in storage technologies.

Key Findings
– To integrate large shares of renewables, day-ahead weather forecasting and system reliability calculations (N-1 contingency events) were widely revamped to include the renewable energy (RE) component in Germany.
– Though China faced a heavy loss of $ billion in 2011 because of curtailed wind power, the country has invested in improving its capacity to handle the stochastic factor in renewables through an ultra-short-term 4-hour-ahead forecast with 15-minute intervals and the enforcement of wind curtailment rules.
Denmark’s unique forecasting system is designed to make realistic predictions by comparing the actual output of RE as opposed to the previous day’s predictions.

Generation Mix
Germany plans to increase the share of RE to % by 2020 and an average share of % by 2030. Germany has efficiently used the surplus in coal power to offset the variability in renewables.
Denmark enjoys the benefit of insignificant wind curtailment, compared to other European countries such as Spain, and is one of the earliest countries to anticipate the need for flexible coal plants, resulting in ramping rates of to %, which is higher than the ramping rates of Germany’s conventional plants.

Wholesale Power Market
– Ancillary and intra-day markets are key strategies to provide additional power on short notice and manage imbalances that occur because of the variability of RE power. In Germany, these intra-day power markets have been modified to account for greater flexibility for RE.
– In addition to being a part of the common European Union (EU) framework, Denmark’s power market benefits from participating in the Nord Pool Spot with Finland, Sweden, and Norway. With its flexible combined heat and power (CHP) and coal plants, Denmark profits by selling power into both the normal wholesale market and balancing markets.

Regional Interconnections
– An efficient way to handle surplus renewable power is through well-managed interconnections, which allow surplus RE power to be transferred to other countries.
– In July 2015, Denmark experienced a booming % over-generation, which was successfully utilized by existing transmission interconnections with Germany, Norway, and Sweden.
– BritNed Development Limited was established as a commercial interconnector between the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, providing a gigawatt (GW) capacity to market participants, which is in addition to Interconnexion France-Angleterre (IFA) 2000 that existed between the United Kingdom and France. Seeing the success, Ofgem is actively pursuing additional links with Belgium, Norway, and France.
Spain has one of the highest levels of wind power curtailment worldwide, estimated to reach about % of wind power generation by 2020; however, the recently launched Santa Llogaia–Baixàs (SpainFrance) interconnection line has opened a realm of possibilities to handle large shares of variable RE power.
South Australia’s power system will be reliable, even in situations where wind power generation hits more than % of the country’s demand, as long as either the Heywood interconnector is operational or sufficient amounts of synchronous generation is available in the country’s power grid system as indicated by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

Electrical Energy Storage
– As countries gear up for handling larger shares of renewables into their grids, storage technology becomes more relevant, with recent inventions such as Tesla’s Powerwall and modifications to existing storage systems such as pumped-hydro and compressed air energy storage (CAES) systems.
– Compared to other battery forms, sodium-sulfur (NaS) batteries have achieved % efficiency at cycles, at a cost of about $ per kilowatt-hour (kWh).
– The wind-to-hydrogen project developed in the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) National Wind Technology Center (Colorado) is an innovative solution towards extracting electricity from wind turbines or photovoltaic (PV) panels to produce and store hydrogen using electrolyzers.

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