Operating, Spinning Reserves, and Renewable Energy Generation:...
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Operating, Spinning Reserves, and Renewable Energy Generation: Trifecta of Equilibrium

By Energy CIO Insights | Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Innovations in technologies and processes such as storage, load management, advanced predictive capability, and the exhibition of new inverter capabilities have showcased the potential to contribute to the balancing of the spinning and other reserve requirements

FREMONT, CA: The delicate balance between spinning and operating reserves need to be maintained to guarantee reliability on energy supply infrastructure. The oscillation of demand for energy can be symmetrical only in the ideal world. With variations occurring at a pace equivalent to the speed of light, both reserves need to be kept on a straight line.

Operating reserves are vital for electric utilities, as it ensures that energy is available when necessary. Especially to respond to a string of events that might increase the need for energy which exists at present. Spinning reserves are generators that are already up and running. They can match up the shortages quicker in case of spikes both high and low. Other options are generators that can be dispatched by the operators to neutralize the demand, but these cannot respond as quickly as the spinning reserves.

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The spinning reserves can respond rapidly to sudden cravings for more power, but, it is an expensive affair. The inefficiency is high when the plants are running on levels different from its optimal range, especially for a long duration. There is an increase in cost observed when the provision of individual resources is considered, and when more plants are working simultaneously. For avoiding the inefficiencies, the addition of wind and solar power can be carried out to equalize the reserves and by balancing out minute-to-minute and hour-to-hour variability. The uncertainty can be dealt with if, at the same time, other power electronic interfaced resources can respond immediately when required to do so.  

Recent innovations in technologies such as storage, load management, advanced predictive capability, and the demonstration of new inverter capabilities possess the potential to contribute to spinning and other reserve requirements. The transforming energy landscape is driving the need to reconsider the industry’s traditional approach to reserves encompassing the increased use of variable energy resources.

With conventional technologies included, the minimum online reserve is necessary to prevent generation load imbalance from leading to an uncontrollable drop in the frequency.

Generator protection is ideally designed to trip generators offline if frequency reaches levels in which turbine blade resonance might damage equipment. The inertia on the system is decreasing, leading to a more significant change in frequency after an emergency event. These resources can respond much quicker and more accurately than conventional resources to recover frequency.

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