Hybrid energy vegetation & flexibility – The way forward for the grid – CleanTechnica

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Aerial of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Flatirons campus near Boulder, Colorado. Photographed from an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). (Photo by Joshua Bauer / NREL)

Imagine a power grid that runs on clean, renewable energy. Now imagine that this network offers the convenience and convenience that consumers have come to expect, as well as network reliability and resilience services that are similar or even better than conventional systems. That is the promise of the FlexPower project.

With the support of the US Department of Energy Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium, FlexPower is bringing researchers from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) together with other National Laboratories to develop an on-site variable hybrid power plant with energy storage on the NREL's Flatirons campus. Participants include Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and Sandia National Laboratories (Sandia).

Since renewable energies are displacing conventional generation, hybrid renewable power plants in combination with energy storage systems can convert variable resources such as wind and solar photovoltaics (PV) into fully controllable and flexible energy sources. These hybridized power plants will be able to operate in day-ahead and real-time energy markets and provide essential reliability and resiliency services for the grid.

Rethinking renewable energies

“This research will help accelerate the uptake of variable wind and PV resources on a utility scale by showing how hybridization can smooth the transition to clean energy,” said NREL chief engineer Vahan Gevorgian. “In order for the power grid to economically and reliably integrate large amounts of variable renewable generation, robust energy storage capabilities and a rethinking of the value of renewable energy systems for the grid are required.”

To support this transformation, researchers will test a variety of energy storage systems, including pumped storage hydropower, battery, hydrogen, flow-through battery, kinetic and ultra-capacitor energy storage. In addition, the project will focus on advanced control strategies and resource prediction techniques. Sophisticated controls can improve the allocability and availability of variable generation by taking advantage of the complementary nature of wind and PV resources and increasing capacity factors for renewable projects with minimal or, in some cases, no additional transmission build-up. Thanks to improved forecasts, hybrid power plants, like conventional power plants, can participate in the markets for energy and ancillary services.

By combining generation, storage, advanced control and improved forecasting in hybrid systems, operators can achieve economies of scale through the shared use of infrastructure as well as location and approval costs. These facilities can also provide the full spectrum of existing essential reliability services as well as new, evolving network reliability services. For example, hybrid power plants can provide both self-black starts and power system black starts, can operate in island mode, and can participate in power system recovery plans. And hybrid systems are scalable and range from small microgrids to large interconnected networks.

The FlexPower project is of great interest to a wide range of stakeholders including regulators, reliability organizations, system operators, utilities, facility owners and operators, equipment vendors, and island power system owners and operators.

“Hybrid renewable energy plants could introduce the national and global energy sector into a new and potentially disruptive class of power systems,” said Gevorgian. “The FlexPower project will demonstrate the value of renewable energy systems and propose strategies for using them more efficiently to reduce cutback, increase energy production and smooth out variability. The result could be high quality network services and a more secure and resilient power supply. “

Share the results

FlexPower's research will be freely available to all stakeholders in the form of publicly available information and other assets. In particular, stakeholders have access to the FlexPower controller architecture; industrial control platform control codes developed by NREL, INL and Sandia; Maps and databases for evaluating hybridization potential; Results of regional impact studies; and reports, publications, regional webinars, conference presentations, and other public relations materials.

NREL's network-based hybrid system Flatirons Campus will provide companies and researchers with a test environment to validate and demonstrate their hybrid system concepts and strategies. The fully functional multi MW hybrid power plant will be able to demonstrate all types of dispatchability, reliability and resilience services. It will also provide a grid-scale test environment that will provide hybrid system demonstrations for a range of stakeholders, opportunities for control and equipment providers to test new hybrid controllers and hardware, a place for staff training and new international collaborations, and a validation platform for standardization of hybrid technologies.

FlexPower was funded in part by the US Department of Energy's Wind Energy Technologies Bureau, the Hydropower Technologies Bureau, the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Bureau, and the Electricity Bureau.

Article courtesy of NREL

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