In-Depth New Analyses on the Use of Renewable Energy for Power System Operations
Around the nation, many states are adopting aggressive targets for electricity supplied by renewable energy resources, such as wind and solar power. Deep reliance on such 'intermittent' resources -- ones that can produce power only when the wind blows or the sun shines -- can lead to intriguing but ultimately resolvable challenges for power grid operators in managing all of the different types of power plants to "keep the lights on" under all operating conditions on the system.
Senior Advisor Susan Tierney recently participated in one of the most in-depth analytical exercises ever conducted to explore the implications of much-deeper use of renewable energy for power system operations. This study, "Investigating a Higher Renewables Portfolio Standard in California" (January 2014), was sponsored by the five major public and private electric utilities in California, conducted by E3 Consultants, and overseen by an Independent Review Panel, of which Dr. Tierney was a member.
The sponsoring utilities -- Los Angeles Department of Water & Power, Pacific Gas & Electric Company, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, San Diego Gas & Electric Company, and Southern California Edison -- wanted a detailed study of the operational, cost, and environmental implications of scenarios in which California moved to a 40% or 50% renewable energy requirement by 2030. E3 modeled the electric system under various scenarios.
As part of the Independent Advisory Panel, Dr. Tierney wrote that "maintaining electric reliability is technically achievable, assuming a substantial set of assumptions are realized concurrent with the expanded use of renewable resources, given what was studied."