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E – 1740 Generation of Electricity from Variable Renewable Sources: Effect on the Grid

Intended Audience: Electrical, Environmental & Energy Engineers
PDH UNITS: 2

4 STUDENTS ENROLLED

In the United States, the electricity supply is so reliable that it is often taken for granted that it will always have all the electricity we need available at out finger tips at all times.  As the mix of renewable energy from wind and solar systems continues to increase, however, concern has been expressed over how rapid changes in system output, such as when clouds block the sun or when the wind stops blowing, will affect the reliability of the electric supply.

This course is based upon a study conducted in 2012 by the National Renewable Energy Laboratories.  The study examined carefully the effect of increasing the renewable fraction of the national electric supply to 80% by 2050 and what will be needed to ensure reliability and stability of the grid.

With a significant increase in the contributions of wind and solar to the grid since 2012, this presentation looks at the technical and economic driving forces that are making this possible.  In particular, it looks at both the positive and potentially negative of renewable adoption, and methods of mitigating the negative effects in order to enhance the positive effects.

Course Outline

  • Introduction
  • PV Systems
  • Wind Systems
  • Grid Effects of Variability of Sources
  • Methods of Overcoming Source Variability

Learning Objectives:

Upon completion of the course, the student should understand the concerns involved with large scale deployment of PV and wind electrical generation.  Fortunately, many technological solutions to variable renewable impact are already available and many more are on the near horizon.  Specific topics discussed include

  • Information on annual installations of PV and wind generators.
  • Information on historic and present installed costs of PV and wind generators.
  • A comparison of worldwide energy production by fossil, nuclear and renewables.
  • What’s on the drawing board for new PV technologies?
  • Current levelized cost of energy for natural gas, nuclear, wind, PV and hydro.
  • PV system operation, individually and as a distributed system.
  • Wind power system operation, individually and as a distributed system.
  • Present organization and management of the grid.
  • Positive and potentially negative effects of renewables on the grid.
  • How to cost-effectively overcome the negative effects and achieve 80% renewables in the U.S. by 2050 with positive economic and environmental byproducts for the energy users and the utilities.

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