Clean energy brief July 18: Renewables do not harm power grid reliability – draft US report

Rick Perry

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry is sworn in before testifying at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on his nomination to be Energy secretary on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 19, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Also in this brief: 1) Smart street lights transforming local utilities 2) Virtual power plants, “trans-active energy” platforms putting consumers in charge

Draft study not yet vetted by political staff, renewable energy industry fears political interference from Trump Administration

A draft of a study by the US Department of Energy shows the expansion of renewable energy has not adversely impacted the reliability of the US electricity grid.

rick perry

Tesla solar rooftop tiles installed on a house.

“Numerous technical studies for most regions of the nation indicate that significantly higher levels of renewable energy can be integrated without any compromise of system reliability,” the draft says.

According to the draft, expansion of the renewable industry could require more transmission lines, advanced planning and flexibility to balance generation and meet demand.

But, the report says coal and nuclear power, known as baseload power, “is not as necessary as it used to be” given advances in grid technology.

Official with four grid operators that serve about 133 million customers agree renewables do no harm to energy security of reliability.

“I don’t see them as threatening, no,” Woody Rickerson, vice president of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas told Reuters. “We can perform reliably with renewable generation; there are just things you have to do with renewables that you don’t have to do with (conventional) power generation.”

rick perryWith increased use of renewables, grid operators say they have become more dependent on weather forecasting, for instance.  Storms, low wind activity and cloud covers sometimes require grid operators to ensure that conventional power is readily available.

The renewable energy industry is concerned the study commissioned by US Energy Secretary Rick Perry would be used by the Trump administration to create policies that supported coal plants at the expense of wind and solar.

Shaylyn Hynes, a spokeswoman for the Energy Department said the draft was “outdated” and had not gone through “any adjudication” from the department’s career or political staff.

The report was to have been released in early July, but will not be released for another couple of weeks, according to Hynes.

Bloomberg first reported on draft study on Friday.

73 million smart street lights globally by 2026

According to a new report from Navigant Research combining advances in energy efficient lighting with new technologies and sensors, smart streetlights can help cities increase efficiency, raise additional revenue, keep residents safe, improve sustainability, and attract new residents and businesses.

“With LEDs established as the technology of choice for street lighting upgrades, the next frontier for smart street lighting networks involves rapidly increasing deployments of controls technology and a transition to being utilized as a broader platform for smart city innovations,” says Ryan Citron, research analyst at Navigant Research.

“Sensors and other technologies are being added to smart street lighting networks to offer a multitude of new city services, including gunshot detection, air quality monitoring, electric vehicle (EV) charging, traffic management, and smart parking, among others.”

Smart street lights also offer increased energy and maintenance savings as well as new opportunities for new revenue, according to the report. Services related to streetlight infrastructure, such EV charging and broadband coverage, can mean additional income for suppliers, cities, and utilities alike.

Virtual power plants, “trans-active energy” platforms expected to transform electrical systems

A new report from Navigant Research examines the core of virtual power plant (VPP) and transactive energy (TE) platforms, identifying potential revenue streams that could be created through the integration of both.

rick perry

An illustration of a virtual power plant. Source: Yale Environment 360 – Yale University

The concepts of VPPs and TE are similar in that they place prosumers—formerly passive consumers that now also produce energy—at the forefront of an emerging market for grid services delivered by distributed energy resources (DER).

“The energy industry is shifting inexorably toward a more dynamic and volatile distribution network, where self-consumption and micro-trading will be the norm, whether between prosumers and the power grid or between prosumers themselves,” says Peter Asmus, principal research analyst at Navigant Research.

“The disruption created by this scenario will be deep and pervade the entire energy value chain.”

Industry stakeholders must consider significant differences as policymakers accommodate new technologies, business models, and software platforms associated with power generation, control, and transmission and distribution.

VPPs could be viewed as a leading pathway to TE to meet the objectives of the Energy Cloud: providing power at high quality, on demand, and at a reasonable price.

These platforms deliver greater value to the customer while also creating benefits for the host distribution utility and the transmission grid operator.

According to the report, TE also enables prosumers looking to localize energy solutions in novel ways without traditional grid players, such as utilities or transmission grid operators, necessarily defining the rules of engagement.

The reportVPP Transactive Energy Revenue Streams, identifies six potential revenue stream opportunities: localized clean energy; virtual capacity; real-time demand response (DR); fast frequency regulation; smart voltage control; and big data from small sources.

The report focuses on an envisioned integration of TE within VPPs and what types of services could result from such a marriage

rick perry

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