Adding Flexibility to the Existing Electric Grid

A recent article about the issues facing the California electric grid has elicited a lot of interest on the impact of renewables on the current grid.

25 March 2013

A recent article (http://newsle.com/article/0/62537703/) about the issues facing the California electric grid has elicited a lot of interest on the impact of renewables on the current grid.

From the perspective of asset owners, I believe we can incentivize greater flexibility from the current "inflexible" generation. The industry has experience in Europe where large and small coal fired generation and in several cases nuclear generation has added to the flexibility of the grid. The market structures and the EU supported natural gas liberalization forced historically inflexible generation to invest in retrofits and provide flexibility. Of course, now with the higher NG prices in Europe, the coal generation with its capital investments and sometimes operational modifications has been able to provide the flexibility. The same is perhaps possible in California (what is purchased) and the US in general.

Moreover, encouraging generating units to operate at lower loads while making them whole, and in fact paying them for faster ramp ups and downs could alone help in alleviating the issue.

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Today's expert blogger is Nikhil Kumar, Program Lead - Utility Economics for Intertek. Nikhil is based in Sunnyvale, CA and is leading the Smart - Asset Integrity Management (AIM) services business for the company.