Posted by Tim Stobbs on January 30, 2009
In the world of power generation some renewables, like wind and solar, hold a special place of fear for grid managers. You see it adds some highly variable generation to your fleet which requires some flexible dispatching power like natural gas to cover the gaps when it is on and some fairly robust computer managing to make sure no one loses power when the wind suddenly drops off.
Yet the more I was thinking about it, if you put more power on the grid in that form in a large amount you would likely get a more stable power generation. For example, if you put 20% wind/solar in Saskatchewan you would be hard pressed to find a day in this province when you are not going to get some power from this facilities if you spread them over a larger area. The key would be to spread them around.
Common wisdom to date was most grids likely could not hanlde more than 20% renewables without having to modify the grid. That’s why I like this article, which points out to some work by a graduate student in the US that shows in theory you could push it to 70%. To date the work is limited, but if nothing else it is showing some thinking outside the box. I wonder what would happen if more people did that?