NERC: Integrating Large-Scale Solar Requires Transmission Changes


Reliably integrating larger amounts of solar and other variable generation into the bulk power system will require changes to the way the system is planned and operated, according to ‘Accommodating High Levels of Variable Generation,’ a new report from the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC).Â

The report highlights transmission additions and reinforcements, better forecasting of variable generation output and access to flexible grid resources (including customer participation in targeted demand management, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and large-scale electricity storage) as key contributors to reliably integrating variable resources into the system.

The report's specific recommendations and findings include the following:

  • Planning practices and methods require change. The integration of high levels of variable generation will require system planners to change planning practices, procedures, methods and tools to ensure reliability in the coming years. Incorporating resources located at the distribution-level (such as roof-top solar panels and smart-grid technologies) into bulk power system planning studies is a key area in need of improvement, along with integrated analysis of transmission and resources in probabilistic planning studies.

  • Grid operators require new tools and practices. Ensuring the efficient, effective and reliable use of variable resources will require a number of changes in system operations centers, including incorporating consistent and accurate forecasting of daily and seasonal variable generation output and advanced control techniques into daily and real-time practices. A comprehensive regional analysis of the operational impacts of proposed system changes (i.e., larger balancing areas or participation in wider-area balancing management) is also recommended.

  • The industry is encouraged to pursue research and development and establish appropriate market signals. A renewed focus on research and development for new system models, continued improvement of variable generation technologies and advanced planning techniques are needed.

  • The report also recommends that organized markets consider instituting mechanisms designed to ensure the availability of adequate flexible balancing resources. Appropriate requirements for generation-ramping requirements, minimum generation levels and shorter operations scheduling intervals should also be considered.

  • Policy-makers are encouraged to remove barriers to transmission development and consider reliability. The report encourages policy makers to accelerate transmission siting, approve permits for needed facilities and otherwise remove barriers to needed transmission development. It also encourages policy-makers to consider the opportunities and issues associated with proposed system changes, the importance of coordinated planning and the impacts of variable generation on wide-area system reliability.

Further information is available at

SOURCE: North American Electric Reliability Corp.

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