California ISO, First Solar, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
CAISO, NREL and First Solar demonstrated how large-scale solar resources can provide essential reliability services to the grid, which have traditionally been offered by conventional power plants. A series of technical tests conducted on a 300 MW PV plant showcased the role of advanced controls in leveraging the solar energy’s value and contributing to grid stability.
Besides replication in any large-scale PV power plant in the world, the practice is also applicable for clustered PV resources (assuming appropriate power aggregation and availability of communications and controls). Additionally, to further enhance system flexibility, storage can be easily incorporated into the concept.
By 2030, utilities in California are required by state law to produce 50% of their electricity sales from renewable energy sources. To reach this goal, California grid operators need to find additional ways to maintain grid reliability and balance generation and load with increased levels of variable renewable generation. Demonstrating today that additional ways are feasible is instrumental in achieving the state’s broader objective of a resilient, reliable, low-carbon grid.
For this purpose, CAISO in collaboration with NREL and First Solar, conducted various tests in order to demonstrate the PV plant’s capability to provide upwards/downwards ramping of its power output, frequency response and voltage control.
Since some PV plants already can provide these necessary reliability services, the practice could be implemented as soon as the regulatory environment allows renewable resources to be equitably compensated with conventional plants.