“To be thrown upon one’s own resources, is to be cast into the very lap of fortune; for our faculties then undergo a development and display an energy of which they were previously unsusceptible” ~ Benjamin Franklin
A study from the US Department of Energy answered many questions discussed in the article cited below and highlight future needs for more investigation to help power generation owners insight on deciding to retrofit or rebuild power plants. Even though system-wide impacts of cycling are modest, an individual unit could suffer higher than average cycling. Plant owners in this situation will want to know whether they should retrofit their unit or change their operations to better manage cycling at a lower overall cost. Ongoing work includes research on potential retrofits or operational strategies to increase the flexibility of fossil-fueled generators. This includes analysis of the costs and benefits of retrofitting existing plants for options such as lower minimum generation levels or faster ramp rates.
Additional analysis work that would illuminate the impacts of cycling and further compare wind and solar includes the following:
- Market impacts on fossil-fueled plants: How do increased O&M (operations and maintenance) costs and reduced capacity factors affect cost recovery for fossil-fueled plants? What market structures might need revision in a high wind and solar paradigm? How do the economics look for those plants that were most affected?
- Fuel-price sensitivities: How are operations and results affected by different fuel prices for coal and gas?
- Different retirement scenarios: How are operations and results affected if significant coal capacity is retired or if the balance of plants is flexible versus inflexible?
- Storage: Does storage mitigate cycling and is it cost effective?
- Impacts of dispersed versus centralized PV (photovoltaic): How does rooftop versus utility-scale PV affect the grid?
- Reserves requirement testing to fine tune flexibility reserves: What confidence levels of flexibility reserves are most cost effective and still retain reliable grid operation?
- Scenarios with constrained transmission build-outs: If transmission is constrained, what is grid performance and how is cycling affected?
- Reserve-sharing options: How do different reserve-sharing options affect grid operations?
- Increased hydro flexibility and modeling assumptions: How does flexibility in the hydro fleet affect grid operations and what is the impact on cycling?
- Hurdle rates to represent market friction: With higher hurdle rates to mimic less BA (balancing authority) cooperation, how are grid operations and cycling affected?
- Comparison of the detailed 5-minute production simulation modeling with cycling costs to hourly production simulation modeling without cycling costs: How much more accurate is the detailed modeling?
- Gas supply: Is additional gas storage needed? How does increased wind/solar affect gas scheduling and supply issues?
Dr. Greg Unruh tells me that in years past the financial benefits of energy management might have “looked minor compared to investing in new product development or a new marketing campaign.” But now, he says, with the price of energy going up, the economics of energy management become “much more interesting.” As a unit of energy goes up in price, “it cuts the payback period” for an energy-management project.
For more information, read this article for more information: How to save $7 billion by greening up the grid
 Al Bredenberg; Energy and Carbon Management Are Increasingly on Manufacturers’ Radar; ThomasNet http://news.thomasnet.com/green_clean/2012/08/27/energy-and-carbon-management-are-increasingly-on-manufacturers-radar/; August 27th, 2012
When Science and Business Create Cleaner Energy: How to save $7 billion by greening up the grid