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Advanced Power Plant Flexibility
Wind and solar power are seeing a rapid increase in many Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) countries. Accommodating the growing shares of wind and solar power poses novel challenges for power systems, because their output fluctuates with the climate and weather. Dispatchable power plants — including thermal generation — are key to providing the system flexibility needed to deal with the fluctuating balance between supply and demand of electricity.


Advanced Power Plant Flexibility
The goal

To build strong momentum and commitment from governments and industry to implement solutions that make power generation more flexible.

The opportunity

Government, utilities, manufacturers, equipment suppliers, international organizations, the research community, and other private and public sector stakeholders can accelerate the achievement of this goal in many ways. For example:

  • Leverage international experience to enhance the impact of domestic policies and actions. 
  • Improve the flexibility of current assets and determine opportunities for cost-effective operational improvements.
  • Share and exchange best practices for comprehensive assessments of generation fleets.
  • Identify key innovative technologies that can improve utilities’ bottom line.
  • Share insight and experience on the various technical solutions that can be deployed to improve power plant flexibility.
  • Raise awareness among a broader audience about efforts to improve power plant flexibility.
  • Assess which research activities should be prioritized.
  • Analyze the system benefits of increased supply-side flexibility. 
Why It's Needed

To integrate variable renewable energy. Variable renewable energy (VRE) — such as wind and solar power — technologies differ from traditional power generation sources. Most important, their output fluctuates over time, driven by the varying availability of wind and sunlight. The growth of VRE capacity thus calls for increased system flexibility. Flexible dispatchable power plants are a main source of flexibility in power systems, alongside grids, demand shaping, and storage.

To highlight today’s success. Many countries are demonstrating that a flexible power supply can successfully deal with fluctuations in supply and demand. Power plants that were built to run around the clock are undergoing retrofits and seek new sources of revenue to encourage more dynamic operations.

To unlock the flexibility potential. In many power systems, regulations, market design, and contractual arrangements may encourage an inflexible operation of power plants. As a result, there is a tremendous amount of supply flexibility that is available from a technical perspective, but not exploited in reality. 

To optimize the utilization of generation assets. A better understanding of the capabilities that are needed in the power system of the future can foster a better use of existing power generation assets. This will also lead to a heightened awareness of the complementarity of flexible generation sources and variable renewables, and demonstrate that they align in the collective effort to safeguard a cleaner, cost-competitive, and reliable power system.

Recognition

Past and future recognition of high-level commitments to help increase power plant flexibility by the Campaign include the following:

  • Eighth Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM8) meeting in Beijing, China in June 2017;
  • Expert workshop held in Paris, France in September 2017;
  • Expert workshop and study trip in Germany in November 2017;
  • Expert workshop and study trip in China in March 2018; and
  • High-level public-private roundtable on the Campaign and expected workshop at CEM9 in Copenhagen, Denmark in May 2018.
The Coalition

The governments of China, Denmark and Germany lead the campaign; participating countries are Brazil, Canada, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, United Arab Emirates and the European Commission. Companies participating in the campaign include Enel, Energinet.dk, General Electric, DONG energy and COWI; the German think tank Agora Energiewende is also a member. The International Energy Agency (IEA) supports the implementation of the campaign as operating agent. Participants have each made specific commitments on how to advance the objectives of the campaign; see below. 

Why It's Needed

To integrate variable renewable energy. Variable renewable energy (VRE) — such as wind and solar power — technologies differ from traditional power generation sources. Most important, their output fluctuates over time, driven by the varying availability of wind and sunlight. The growth of VRE capacity thus calls for increased system flexibility. Flexible dispatchable power plants are a main source of flexibility in power systems, alongside grids, demand shaping, and storage.

To highlight today’s success. Many countries are demonstrating that a flexible power supply can successfully deal with fluctuations in supply and demand. Power plants that were built to run around the clock are undergoing retrofits and seek new sources of revenue to encourage more dynamic operations.

To unlock the flexibility potential. In many power systems, regulations, market design, and contractual arrangements may encourage an inflexible operation of power plants. As a result, there is a tremendous amount of supply flexibility that is available from a technical perspective, but not exploited in reality. 

To optimize the utilization of generation assets. A better understanding of the capabilities that are needed in the power system of the future can foster a better use of existing power generation assets. This will also lead to a heightened awareness of the complementarity of flexible generation sources and variable renewables, and demonstrate that they align in the collective effort to safeguard a cleaner, cost-competitive, and reliable power system.

Countries
clean-energy-ministerial-flag-brazil
Brazil
Canada
Canada
China
China
Denmark
Denmark
European Commission
European Commission
Germany
Germany
India
India
Indonesia
Indonesia
Mexico
Mexico
Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
South Africa
South Africa
Spain
Spain
UAE
United Arab Emirates
Partners