Balancing the electricity supply system is not a simple task anywhere in the world, especially as more and more distributed energy resources come online. OpenADR can kick in whenever the grid operator needs to reduce demand to keep the system stable. Aric Saunders of Electriq Power, a California-based provider of battery energy storage systems for homes and small businesses, explains.
The power grid operation has changed considerably in the last 20 years. While back in the 1990s, Independent System Operators (ISOs), coordinators of regional transmission assets, had complete control of the electricity generation in the power grid in much of the US, today in 2020, the freedom for independent customers and market participants to generate power whenever, wherever has led to tremendous uncertainty that system operators must now learn to handle.
One of the most important players in the sector has been solar energy. In the last 20 years, the widespread adoption of solar PV systems throughout the US has had a particular effect on the grid operation known as the duck curve.
The duck curve was first documented in California as a phenomenon that only occurs in power grids with the widespread adoption of solar power. As solar PV systems generate electricity independently of the energy demands, the excess power is sent back to the grid where it is used by the power utility to serve other electricity demands.
However, the delivery of large amounts of solar power to the grid, can cause an excessive generation that must be balanced by grid operators. In the same aspect, solar power starts to rapidly reduce after 5 pm, meaning that large generation capacities must be rapidly substituted by traditional and controllable power plants to meet energy demands in a process that generates additional costs.
Although solar is the greatest factor in the power grid, particularly in California, wind turbines, which have also been widely adopted throughout the US, have similarly high uncertainties in electricity generation due to unpredictable wind speeds that vary constantly throughout the year and over time. These conditions are often even more unpredictable than solar.
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