The role of conventional generation in managing variability
Kubik, M.L., Coker, P.J. and Hunt, C. (2012) The role of conventional generation in managing variability. Energy Policy, 50. pp. 253-261. ISSN 0301-4215 (Special section: Past and prospective energy transitions - insights from history)
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2012.07.010
As electricity systems incorporate increasing levels of variable renewable generation, conventional plant will be required to operate more flexibly, with potential impacts for economic viability and reliability. Northern Ireland is pursuing an ambitious target of 40% of electricity to be supplied from renewable sources by 2020. The dominant source of this energy is anticipated to come from inherently variable wind power, one of the most mature renewable technologies. Conventional thermal generators will have a significant role to play in maintaining security of supply. However, running conventional generation more flexibly in order to cater for a wind led regime can reduce its efficiency, as well as shortening its lifespan and increasing O&M costs. This paper examines the impacts of variable operation on existing fossil fuel based generators, with a particular focus on Northern Ireland. Access to plant operators and industry experts has provided insight not currently evident in the energy literature. Characteristics of plant operation and the market framework are identified that present significant challenges in moving to the proposed levels of wind penetration. Opportunities for increasing flexible operation are proposed and future research needs identified.