New NREL Study Examines Renewable Generation Integration in the Eastern Interconnection

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) commissioned the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to examine the potential impacts that high penetrations of wind and solar photovoltaics (PV) may have on the Eastern Interconnection by evaluating the conditions system operators would face if wind and solar photovoltaics were used to meet 30% of annual electricity demand.  According to the NREL, its Eastern Renewable Generation Integration Study (ERGIS) is intended to assist power system planners, operators, and regulators in planning for operational changes that may be needed to support the anticipated influx of new renewables.  NREL reports in the ERGIS that integrating up to 30% variable wind and PV generation into the Eastern Interconnection is technically feasible, but will likely change the way traditional generation sources operate and may require operational modifications, including increased coordination across the system.  Among other things, NREL found that as wind and PV output increased, coal and combined cycle generation were displaced, and thermal plants would run fewer hours on an annual basis and cycle more frequently on a daily basis.  Additionally, hydro and pumped storage resources shifted from a single peak per day to a morning and evening peak.

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