The Rising Tide of Attention on Renewables – Welcome to the Club
As renewable generation continues to grow, occupying bigger and bigger portions of overall installed capacity in the United States, its value to the reliability of the Bulk Power System (BPS) is growing right along with it. While most renewable generation projects remain below the bright line threshold of mandatory compliance with approved reliability standards (20 MW for a single generating unit or 75 MW for a collection of units at a single interconnection), their combined influence on the grid is gaining substantial attention.
The increased attention is both good and bad. Increases in responsibilities to manage the additional data and tasks are an added but not burdensome cost. However, the increasing attention paid to renewables legitimizes their importance and value to the overall reliability of the interconnected grid. Renewables are gaining a seat at the major influencer of reliable operations table, but that seat isn’t free.
The NERC Reliability Issues Steering Committee (RISC) has identified several themes in their draft 2021
ERO Reliability Risk Priorities Report. One significant risk to BPS reliability is:
The increase in natural gas and renewable variable energy generation coupled with the decline in nuclear and coal-fired generation, and implications resulting on dynamic performance of the BPS Relay setting guidance.
You might say compliance, both mandatory and implied, is bleeding over the bright line criteria of registration for Generator Owners and Operators. We should remember that, regardless of registration with NERC and mandatory compliance with reliability standards, NERC may request data or information from anyone (Data Request) to meet its obligations under section 215 of the Federal Power Act. One important area of renewed and increasing data needs from renewables is the updated GADS reporting system.
Proposed NERC Rules of Procedure modifications for GADS include new requirements for photo-voltaic solar (GADS-PV) facilities and changes for wind facilities (GADS-W). The following areas are included.
- Reporting on and modeling Reliability Assessments studying and modeling Loss‐of‐load Expectation
- Analyzing how resource availability and renewable generation performance impacts Planning Reserve Margin calculations
- Examining potential refinements to the severity risk index using actual renewable generation performance to establish the effect renewable generation is having on Event Driven and Condition Driven risk, detailed event information, and generation performance characteristics
- Monitoring the impact of transmission outages on generators and generator outages on transmission
- Conducting detailed analysis to evaluate whether certain types of unit configurations or key operating components may be impacted by operating conditions such as extreme weather
- Providing additional clarity on outages caused by extreme events as compared to other types of outages
- Conducting other analysis of renewable resources as related to reliability
We can expect more attention directed at renewables both from a data reporting and operating perspective. The green energy business has always believed it could be a vital contributor to grid operations and system reliability while meeting environmental goals at the same time. The established energy industry is obviously in agreement.