8760-Based Method for Representing Variable Generation Capacity Value in Capacity Expansion Models: Preprint

Bethany Frew, Wesley Cole, Yinong Sun, Trieu Mai, James Richards

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Capacity expansion models (CEMs) are widely used to evaluate the least-cost portfolio of electricity generators, transmission, and storage needed to reliably serve demand over the evolution of many years or decades. Various CEM formulations are used to evaluate systems ranging in scale from states or utility service territories to national or multi-national systems. CEMs can be computationally complex, and to achieve acceptable solve times, key parameters are often estimated using simplified methods. In this paper, we focus on two of these key parameters associated with the integration of variable generation (VG) resources: capacity value and curtailment. We first discuss common modeling simplifications used in CEMs to estimate capacity value and curtailment, many of which are based on a representative subset of hours that can miss important tail events or which require assumptions about the load and resource distributions that may not match actual distributions. We then present an alternate approach that captures key elements of chronological operation over all hours of the year without the computationally intensive economic dispatch optimization typically employed within more detailed operational models. The updated methodology characterizes the (1) contribution of VG to system capacity during high load and net load hours, (2) the curtailment level of VG, and (3) the potential reductions in curtailments enabled through deployment of storage and more flexible operation of select thermal generators. We apply this alternate methodology to an existing CEM, the Regional Energy Deployment System (ReEDS). Results demonstrate that this alternate approach provides more accurate estimates of capacity value and curtailments by explicitly capturing system interactions across all hours of the year. This approach could be applied more broadly to CEMs at many different scales where hourly resource and load data is available, greatly improving the representation of challenges associate with integration of variable generation resources.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages20
StatePublished - 2017
EventInternational Energy Workshop - College Park, Maryland
Duration: 12 Jul 201714 Jul 2017


ConferenceInternational Energy Workshop
CityCollege Park, Maryland

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-6A20-68869


  • capacity expansion models
  • electricity demand
  • electricity generation
  • portfolio optimization
  • storage
  • transmission


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