A recent article posted on RenewEconomy suggests that there may be an alternative to battery storage, in order to deal with the so-called “duck curve”.
The duck curve represents grid electricity demand in relation to solar energy. Demand increases gradually early in the morning as we start waking up, then drops off significantly as the sun rises higher in the sky and renewable energy generation kicks in. It then increases very rapidly as the sun goes down and our electricity use remains high, finally dying down once again in the evening.
As increasingly more solar is connected to the grid, which isn’t geared up for the peaks in solar energy when the sun comes up, the Australian Energy Market Operator have suggested that solar curtailment may be necessary once the grid reaches capacity. Many have presumed that batteries and demand management are the only additional solutions to this problem, when in fact, perhaps there is another option.
A newly published study from E3 explains; “Our simulation results show that, with the right economic dispatch rules, solar curtailment can be minimised by allowing solar to provide the most constrained grid services at key times.”
It does so through “downward dispatch”, whereby the operator schedules solar power generation in advance, lower than what is forecast, enabling them to commit fewer thermal generators during this time. Solar would then provide more critical grid services such as frequency regulation and spinning reserve, which it can do with more speed and accuracy than traditional sources such as gas.
Despite scheduling solar that is less than is actually forecast, modelling shows less solar energy will be curtailed using the method – from 31% to 16% considering 28% annual solar penetration.
Not only could this reduce solar curtailment, it would diminish the need for load and grid regulation services provided by thermal generators, improving their efficiency and ultimately, reducing energy used. It could also increase the value of solar due to increased demand.
Solar curtailment is reported to have reached record levels in South Australia in the latest quarter and the proportion of solar feeding into the grid is predicted to keep rising. Given the cost of batteries is still relatively high, this study could present a much more efficient, and renewable-friendly solution.
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