Reliable electric service is the backbone of our national economy. Renewable energy is the fastest-growing source of power generation in the electric sector. Maintaining and enhancing reliability while deploying new and cleaner renewable energy resources are twin imperatives.
Among other things, reliability means preserving balance between the second-by-second changes in electricity supply and electricity demand. Federal, regional, and state regulators, grid authorities, and utilities use power generators of all types, as well as other devices, to maintain this balance and keep a healthy frequency and voltage on the grid. A future, cleaner grid will need more flexibility and responsiveness to address changing sources and characteristics of generation and demand.
Already, forecasting and telemetry are helping grid managers create a more responsive grid, allowing increasing levels of wind and solar to be incorporated into the power grid across the country. Advanced storage and integration technologies, better grid planning, and evolving markets are helping to shape a grid that is capable of integrating even more clean, renewable generation. In addition, renewable energy can strengthen the grid. Services provided by renewable generators include contributing to capacity and resource adequacy, maintaining local voltage and frequency performance, minimizing grid disturbances, providing grid balancing services, and creating a more flexible and diverse generation fleet. Renewable generators can be actively involved in shaping a clean, reliable electric system, in effect helping their own integration into the power system.
Powering Into the Future draws from the thousands of pages of existing technical and policy literature to highlight the key principles of reliability and how renewables fit into this picture. This report provides an overview of existing reliability measurements, requirements, and regulations and surveys the tools and practices grid operators use to integrate renewable resources into the grid. It also details the growing ways in which wind and solar generators can contribute to specific grid reliability needs by providing capacity, controllable generation, frequency and voltage control, and other flexibility- and reliability-enhancing services. Each chapter within this document can be used as a reference separately from the others, or used in conjunction with the others to form a broader picture of renewables in the reliability space. Throughout we’ve also provided a number of sidebars and callouts that provide additional detail and background on important technical topics. We also have boldfaced key terms that are defined in an easy-to-reference glossary at the end of the report.