On-Demand Webinar: The Value of Diversifying Uncertain Renewable Generation through the Transmission System

Over the past two years, the U.S. has seen a significant increase in renewable generation and the number of states targeting net-zero CO2 emissions. Achieving these policies will require the integration of unprecedented amounts of additional renewable generating capacity. The transmission grid has a central role to play in this transition, and expanding the grid can provide substantial value by reducing the overall costs of integrating these resources.

Quantifying this transmission-related value potential, however, is challenging. It requires analytical approaches that capture the benefits of transmission for accessing low-cost renewable generation and unlocking geographic diversity of renewable generation to manage its variability and uncertainty.

Drawing on the results of a newly published Boston University Institute for Sustainable Energy case study, the authors discuss the transmission grid’s value for lowering the cost of integrating renewable generation through geographic diversification. Based on key findings, for renewable generation levels from 10% to 60% of annual energy consumption, interconnecting two power market sub-regions with different wind regimes through transmission investments can reduce annual production costs by between 2% and 23% and annual renewable curtailments by 45% to 90%. The study also documents the importance of considering day-ahead forecasting uncertainty and real-time variability in quantifying this value.

Presentation slides

Moderator: Peter Fox-Penner, ISE Director

Discussant: Rob Gramlich, Founder and President, Grid Strategies LLC

Report Authors:

Johannes Pfeifenberger, ISE Senior Fellow, Principal, The Brattle Group
Pfeifenberger is a Senior Fellow at the ISE where he focuses on the transmission grid’s role in decarbonizing the economy. He is also a Visiting Scholar at MIT and a partner at The Brattle Group, an energy and finance consulting firm, where he has previously led the firm’s energy practice. Pfeifenberger is both an economist and an engineer with deep experience in wholesale power market design, renewable energy, electricity storage, and transmission.

Pablo Ruiz, ISE Affiliated Faculty, Senior Consultant, The Brattle Group
Ruiz is a Research Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and an affiliated faculty with the ISE. He is also CEO and CTO of NewGrid, a transmission optimization software startup spun-off of an ARPA-E research project at BU, and a Senior Consultant at The Brattle Group. Ruiz’s work focuses on power system operations and planning under high renewables penetration, transmission, storage, and electricity market modeling and design.

Kai Van Horn, Principal Analyst, National Grid USA
Van Horn is an expert in leveraging electricity system modeling, analysis, and visualization to illuminate the impacts of the energy transition and develop and communicate strategic responses. As a Principal Analyst of US Market Fundamentals at National Grid USA, Van Horn is exploring pathways to deep decarbonization and the challenges and opportunities they create for utilities and their customers.