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Hybrid grids – key aspect: mix of generation

This is the second blog on hybrid grids. In the first blog, I talked about the definition of hybrid grids and introduced the four key aspects. Now I will highlight and elaborate on the key aspect “mix of generation” and some of its implications for the electric power system.

The generation of electricity will be increasingly from variable renewables like wind and solar in all sizes, ranging from big offshore wind farms and large solar fields down to urban wind turbines on high rise buildings and rooftop solar panels at individual homes.

Not only the diversity in generation capacity will increase but also the diversity in ownership from a “few owners” of big power plants in the past to a mix of numerous / millions owners of smaller and dispersed generating plants today and tomorrow.

In 2015 we conducted a global industry survey about renewables and the grid with 10 questions and received over 1600 responses. 80% of the interviewed believed that in 35 years from now a 70% share of (variable) renewables can be achieved.

Hybrid Grids_blog graphic

Figure 1: stakeholdergroups; source DNVGL beyond integration survey

EU targets on greenhouse gas emissions and share of renewable energy are ambitious. All over the world huge amounts or wind and solar renewables are deployed and you cannot miss it in the news that the tipping point is near or has been reached already.

Although, if we look more in detail we observe different views with respect to renewables:

Policymakers are still concerned about the affordability (costs), network operators are concerned about reliability and the increased complexity of operation and the consequences for control and protection (I will address this in a future tutorial). On the contrast OEMs, IPP and developers see new opportunities emerge. Most experts agree that energy storage and smart grids are viewed as key technologies

The conclusion is clear: Variable renewables drive the change in power systems that have to become more flexible

How is the grid accommodating for the new ways electricity is produced? It has to become more flexible and has to work for and with (utilize the characteristics) renewables, rather than demand the renewables to conform /adapt to the existing grid by requesting (mimicking) behavior of traditional power plants.

Technologies to make the grid more flexible and smart in which information technology plays an important role:

–        Strengthening regional interconnections

–        Make use of (distributed) storage and microgrids

–        Activating inverter capabilities of grid connected renewables

–        Rapid response of aggregated loads (Active Demand)

–        Technology for power flow steering and control

In hybrid grids a paradigm shift is observed from “generation is king” to “grid is king” as the introduced flexibility enables the delivery of the right amount of electricity at the right place at the right time, with the right quality and reliability during power system transformation driven by renewables. To manage this transformation we urgently need roadmaps and innovative business and market models.

Stay tuned, in my next blog I will elaborate on the second key aspect of hybrid grids and its implications: “mix of transmission and distribution”.

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