ORIGINAL REPORTING: California solar pilot shows how renewables can provide grid services
California solar pilot shows how renewables can provide grid services; A utility-scale solar project demonstrated how solar can compete with natural gas over grid services and cost
Herman K. Trabish |Oct. 16, 2017 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: It is becoming clear that as the amount of solar on a power system increases, the system’s need for it and ability to use it drops. That means the need for solar to use what was proven by the pilot project described in this story is becoming greater.
Some grid operators are successfully demonstrating how large amounts of intermittent resources can be integrated and sustain system reliability as successfully as a natural gas plant. The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) inow gets much of its essential grid services, the “ancillary” services, from natural gas plants. But the methane leaks from the Aliso Canyon storage facility pushed stakeholders to advocate for more diverse and reliable resources, arguing renewable energy meets that need. Grid operators are “somewhat risk averse” because they face financial penalties for violating reliability standards, according to Laura Wisland, senior advisor for the Union for Concerned Scientists. But a recent pilot successfully showcased how renewable energy can be used for reliability services to balance the wind and solar penetration on CAISO.
CAISO collaborated with developer First Solar and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on a 300 MW solar power plant project that showed renewable energy can sustain system reliability as effectively and more efficiently than a natural gas plant. The pilot’s success threw participants off guard at first. Clyde Loutan, CAISO’s senior renewable energy integration advisor, said he had not known “ inverter-based resources” could respond so quickly and accurately to the system’s need for essential reliability services. The pilot results come as CAISO is seeing a rising need for reliability services to balance the penetration of variable renewables on its system… click here for more