Integrating non–dispatchable renewable energy into the South African grid : an energy balancing view
Du Plessis, Louis Kemp
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The integration of dispatchable renewable energies like biomass, geothermal and reservoir hydro technologies into an electrical network present no greater challenge than the integration of conventional power technologies for which are well understood by Eskom engineers. However, renewable energies that are based on resources that fluctuate throughout the day and from season to season, like wind and solar, introduce a number of challenges that Eskom engineers have not dealt with before. It is current practice for Eskom's generation to follow the load in order to balance the demand and supply. Through Eskom's load dispatching desk at National Control, generator outputs are adjusted on an hourly basis with balancing reserves making up only a small fraction of the total generation. Through the Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity of 2010, the Department of Energy has set some targets towards integrating renewable energy, including wind and solar generation, into the South African electricity market consequently introducing variability on the supply side. With demand that varies continually, maintaining a steady balance between supply and demand is already a challenging task. When the supply also becomes variable and less certain with the introduction of non-dispatchable renewable energy, the task becomes even more challenging. The aim of this research study is to determine whether the resources that previously helped to balance the variability in demand will still be adequate to balance variability in both demand and supply. The study will only concentrate on variable or non-dispatchable renewable energies as will be added to the South African electrical network according to the first two rounds of the Department of Energy's Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme. This research study only looks into the balancing challenge and does not go into an analysis of voltage stability or network adequacy, both of which warrant in depth analysis.
- Engineering