Study Shows Flexible Solar Can Have Significant Grid Benefits
Solar that is operated flexibly provides significant added value compared to solar operated as a “must-take” resource
Until now it has been assumed that higher levels of solar and wind electricity create challenges for grid operators due to the variability and uncertainty of their output. This can lead to concerns about grid flexibility, ramping requirements and over-generation, exemplified by the California Independent System Operator’s (CAISO) “duck curve.” However, a previous study conducted by
Simulating utility-scale solar deployment levels up to 28 percent annual solar energy penetration, the E3 study calculates operating cost savings of adding solar generation to the electricity system under four different solar operating modes representing different levels of flexible grid response. The study finds that operating solar flexibly provides significant additional value compared to other operating modes. This means incorporating solar resources into the utility’s real-time dispatch decisions as well as relying on solar energy to provide essential grid reliability services. The increased value stems from expected reduced fuel and maintenance costs for conventional generators, reduced curtailment of solar output, and reduced air emissions. It grows as the level of solar penetration increases.
“The study confirms our intuition that solar can provide the most value to the system if grid operators fully utilize the flexible dispatch capabilities of solar power plants, especially under increased solar penetration levels,” said
“By leveraging the full suite of operational capabilities that all
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Source: First Solar, Inc.