Inertia and the Power Grid: A Guide Without the Spin

Paul Denholm, Trieu Mai, Rick Kenyon, Ben Kroposki, Mark O'Malley

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


This guide provides an overview of inertia’s role in the evolving power system. It describes the sources of inertia in the grid, the intrinsic interplay of inertia and other grid services, the factors that impact the amount of and need for inertia, and the changes that can be made to maintain reliability as it declines. The guide is intended for nontechnical audiences. And it introduces accessible examples to illustrate the concepts of inertia and other grid services that are required to maintain system frequency, which is a key indicator of health in the current grid. The guide also discusses alternatives to traditional inertia and provides several takeaways that may be informative to power system decision makers, planners, operators, analysts, and other stakeholders.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages48
StatePublished - 2020

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-6A20-73856


  • grid services
  • inertia
  • power system
  • reliability
  • renewable energy
  • system frequency


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