How Low Can You Go? The Importance of Quantifying Minimum Generation Levels for Renewable Integration

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30 Scopus Citations


One of the significant limitations of solar and wind deployment is declining value caused by the limited correlation of renewable energy supply and electricity demand as well as limited flexibility of the power system. Limited flexibility can result from thermal and hydro plants that cannot turn off or reduce output due to technical or economic limits. These limits include the operating range of conventional thermal power plants, the need for process heat from combined heat and power plants, and restrictions on hydro unit operation. To appropriately analyze regional and national energy policies related to renewable deployment, these limits must be accurately captured in grid planning models. In this work, we summarize data sources and methods for U.S. power plants that can be used to capture minimum generation levels in grid planning tools, such as production cost models. We also provide case studies for two locations in the U.S. (California and Texas) that demonstrate the sensitivity of variable generation (VG) curtailment to grid flexibility assumptions which shows the importance of analyzing (and documenting) minimum generation levels in studies of increased VG penetration.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)249-257
Number of pages9
JournalEnergy Policy
StatePublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-6A20-68961


  • Electricity planning
  • Grid flexibility
  • Grid modeling
  • Renewable integration


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