August 3, 2023

WEICan releases Utility Forum Task 3 Report: Capabilities of Photovoltaic Solar and Battery Energy Storage Systems in Supporting the Power Grid

The Wind Energy Institute of Canada (WEICan) acts as secretariat to Natural Resources Canada’s (NRCan) Utility Forum, which brings together representatives from utilities and system operators across Canada to discuss issues of shared importance specific to the planning and operation of power systems with high penetrations of variable generators (solar, wind). 

Increasing the amount of inverter-based energy sources on electrical power grids, such as wind and solar, can impact grid stability. Decreases in grid stability can result from the renewable energy resource's variability, unpredictability of forecasts, and effects on both distribution and transmission networks. While conventional synchronous generators traditionally provide both energy and ancillary services (inertia, voltage regulation, frequency support, etc.), non-synchronous generators typically contribute only energy and not ancillary services. These factors all create challenges in increasing the amount of renewable energy on the power grid. The ability of renewable energy generators, as well as energy storage systems, to overcome these challenges is seen as increasingly critical to maintain grid stability. Photovoltaic (PV) integration may benefit from battery energy storage systems (BESS) in various ways by enhancing power system flexibility due to their enormous diversity of uses and configurations.

 The Utility Forum convened a selection committee to determine a demonstration of interest for Task 3. The Task 3 Selection Committee was interested in a demonstration of solar PV with battery storage. The goals of this demonstration were to examine:

  1. Role and ability of storage to reduce morning and evening power ramps
  2. Ability of solar + storage to provide fast regulation e.g. PJM’s Reg-D signal. Combining generation with storage shifts the regulation burden away from storage and allows better response over several hours
  3. Ability of combined system to provide firm capacity (i.e. MW) on the market

 This work demonstrated the capabilities of the Wind Energy Institute of Canada’s solar PV-BESS power plant to provide a range of reliability services to the grid. While procurement of ancillary services from inverter-based energy sources is becoming more common in the US and Europe, it is still relatively rare in Canada. Most jurisdictions do not offer compensation for the benefits that solar PV and energy storage can offer. Carrying out and publishing results from real world demonstrations such as that carried out in this work helps utilities and system operators realize the capabilities of the inverter-based energy sources to provide ancillary services and will help them in the creation of markets for such services.

 While simple controls and algorithms were used in this work, results could improve if forecasts and more complex algorithms are incorporated. Nevertheless, the results from this demonstration serve as a proof-of-concept that can show transmission-connected equipment owners the capabilities of the technology.

 To see the full report click here


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The Wind Energy Institute of Canada advances the development of wind energy across Canada through research, testing, innovation and collaboration.