The Silver Lining
The Cost & Risk of managing intermittency is EXPONENTIALLY amplified on small & in-flexible grids (typical of islanded utilities and remote industrial loads).
Primary Technical Challenge: Extreme ramp events caused by intermittent generation overwhelm the load balancing capabilities of the grid (specifically at the short durations).
Primary Economic Challenge: Dispatch of additional oil-fired back-up (spin-reserve) to match renewable generation capacity erodes the cost savings proposition of renewable energy.
IMPACT: Large portions of the world remain captive to high cost oil-fired generation due to these fundamental challenges of integrating even low penetrations of renewable energy.
SHORT DURATION IS A COMMON CHARACTERISTIC AMONGST THE CHALLENGES:
The challenges currently limiting adoption of renewable energy amongst in-flexible and islanded grids of the world share a common characteristic of being derived from the 'short duration' system impacts of intermittency. (sub-hourly).
SUBSTANTIAL COST BENEFIT TO FIRMING & SHAPING AT THE SUB-HOURLY DURATION:
In other words, a means to manage intermittency on a sub-hourly basis carries has the potential to unlock the real cost-benefit value proposition of displacing oil-fired generation with lower cost renewable energy.
A renewable energy generation source with the marginal ability to 'firm & shape' output at short durations will EXPONENTIALLY increase the value of a marginal MWhr of renewable generation.
A renewable energy generator capable of forecasting and reliably delivering blocks of “shaped” renewable energy at short (sub-hourly) intervals can effectively:
Guarantee the avoidance of extreme ramp events from the new renewable capacity.
Eliminate the need to dispatch additional spin-reserve capacity on one-for-one basis
Why isnt this done already? - Storage is Expensive:
The marginal cost increase of matching storage capacity to every MW of renewable capacity remains a difficult economic proposition that typically drowns out the cost-savings of cheaper renewable energy.
What has changed? - Storage capacity can be optimized:
Optimizing to minimize the capacity of storage capacity around the renewable resource (wind & solar) can simultaneoulsy decrease the probability and magnitude of extreme events while minimizing the size of ESS required to maintain system reliability.
CONCLUSION: $150 MWhr FIRM renewable energy is a game-changer!
Large scale renewable generation can be delivered as a guranteed "firm" block of energy at 15 minute intervals for less than $150MWhr - today!