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Renewable Demonstration - ORIGINAL CONTENT

Edward A. Reid Jr.
Posted On:
Mar 22, 2022 at 7:00 AM
Energy Policy, Climate Change

I believe it is essential that at least one large scale demonstration of a completely freestanding renewable plus storage powered grid be conducted under carefully controlled conditions. This demonstration should begin as soon as possible to gather the information necessary to assure that a national renewable grid is reliable. Regrettably, such a demonstration would require installation of long duration storage, which is not currently available commercially.

However, the demonstration could begin by requiring that the renewable generation in the demonstration zone be isolated from eternal sources of backup power and required to deliver surplus electricity to external grids which would function as pseudo-storage. The electricity delivered to pseudo-storage could be returned to the renewable demonstration zone in quantities equal to the quantity of electricity “stored”. The management of the renewable demonstration would be required to specify the storage capacity they required to achieve renewable grid reliability and could deliver only that quantity of electricity to pseudo-storage and draw only that quantity from pseudo-storage.

The demonstration could permit the demonstration zone managers to “install” additional generating capacity and pseudo-storage as required to compensate for lessons learned during the demonstration. The reasons for addition of additional generation and storage, as well as for the selection of particular generator and storage types should be carefully documented.

The demonstration managers would be able to import electricity from external sources if required to avoid demonstration grid failure, but would then be required to install additional generation capacity or contract for more pseudo-storage to avoid a repeat of the imminent grid failure condition. The demonstration managers should not be permitted to deliver electricity outside the demonstration zone, other than to pseudo-storage.

The demonstration zone should not include hydro generation capacity, since it is not broadly available. Nuclear generation capacity in the demonstration zone should approximate the 20% share of generation nationally, if necessary by limiting electricity delivery from nuclear generators to the demonstration zone. The demonstration zone should be located near the coast, so that offshore wind generation could be included in the generation mix as it becomes available.

A demonstration of this type would rapidly identify essential design characteristics and illustrate design flaws in a way that current attempts at demonstration and deployment have failed to do. Actual electricity storage should replace pseudo-storage as it becomes available.

No special provisions for environmental impact statements or siting approvals should be permitted, so that the establishment and development of the demonstration zone mirrors the actual experiences expected during the national transition to a renewable plus storage grid. Again, this approach would quickly identify issues which would affect the national transition. Issue resolutions implemented to facilitate the timely rollout of the demonstration should be available for all future environmental and siting issues, not limited only to the demonstration.

It might be ideal to site the demonstration zone in the metropolitan Washington, DC area to assist agencies of the federal government and federal legislators to understand the various issues with a renewable plus storage grid in real time and work to resolve them in a timely fashion.