The importance of long-term planning in short-term electrical operations


The rapid penetration of renewables is dramatically changing the energy landscape in the United States. Declines in production costs, federal tax incentives, state renewable energy portfolio standards, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan are some of the main drivers of the rapid development of renewable energy. To support these policies, additional transmission capacity will need to be built to transmit energy from remote areas where renewable generators are located to major load centers.

The next decade will see a large number of projects proposed to modernize transmission infrastructure in North America. Almost 900 different lines and nearly 42,000 miles of infrastructure projects are proposed in North America during this period. The Edison Electric Institute indicates that approximately $ 48 billion in transportation investments are expected between 2015 and 2025. Of this total, projects supporting the integration of renewable resources represent approximately $ 22 billion (46%). This endeavor will require careful planning and coordination of new power generation and transmission projects, as the scope and construction time of each project can be very different and complex.

Location and timing are two essential elements of transportation and production investments. Rapid growth in renewable capacity is not always accompanied by rapid expansion of transport. For example, a significant overconsumption of renewable energy before the completion of transmission lines occurred between 2007 and 2011 in West Texas.

The bar graph shows the total wind generating capacity in West Texas and the total transmission capacity from West Texas to other regions between 2002 and 2015. The figure shows that the wind generating capacity in the West Texas grew by approximately 6,400 MW between 2007 and 2011, while there were no significant additions in transmission capacity during the same period. As a result, the transmission capacity between West Texas and the major consumption centers in Texas was notably insufficient to carry all of the electricity to these areas.

This transmission capacity gap has caused real-time operational difficulties, congestion and reliability issues in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) footprint. As shown in Figure 3, ERCOT occasionally had to reduce wind generation to keep the transmission grid within its physical limits in 2011 and 2012. These reductions, supply-demand imbalances in the West and negative market offers from wind turbines sometimes produced negative results. price of time in those years

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