New York ISO report says more wind and solar won’t be a system issue

The New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) on June 30 issued a solar integration study that it says lays the groundwork for reliably managing projected growth in solar resources.

The report, Solar Impact on Grid Operations – An Initial Assessment , examines the potential for growth in solar power, the impact of increasing intermittent resources on grid operations, and forecasting issues that must be addressed to make effective use of solar resources in the future. In 2012, Gov. Andrew Cuomo launched NY-Sun, a $1 billion program to increase the amount of solar energy production in New York State. Earlier this year, Cuomo announced the state’s Clean Energy Standard, a program to require New York State to obtain 50% of its electricity from renewable and clean energy sources by 2030.

NYISO said it has been recognized as a leader in wind power integration and is now applying that success to solar. For the study, the NYISO examined the potential impacts of increased solar and other intermittent energy resources on grid operations by focusing on four primary areas:

  • development of hourly solar profiles and a 15-year solar photovoltaic (solar PV) projection in each of the NYISO market’s 11 load zones for load and solar production forecasting purposes;
  • “lessons learned” and integration studies from other regions that have experienced significant growth in solar and wind resources;
  • potential reliability concerns associated with solar PV equipment and interconnection standards; and
  • the impact of various levels of behind-the-meter solar PV and wind penetration on regulation requirements used in grid operations to balance the system. 

The study finds the New York electric system can reliably manage the increased variability in five-minute loads associated with the solar PV and wind penetration levels studied — up to 4,500 MW wind and 9,000 MW solar PV — through higher regulation service requirements. Regulation service corrects for changes in electricity use affecting the stability of the power system.

As recommended in the study, NYISO said it will continue to track solar PV and wind penetration levels—and the capability of its generation fleet to provide regulation services—in order to assess and make adjustments as appropriate. Large-scale implementation of behind-the-meter solar PV will impact the NYISO’s load profile and system operations. Although these impacts may be mitigated in the future by on-site storage technology, the study recommends the incorporation of real-time and day-ahead solar forecasts into its control room operations and markets as soon as practicable.

Similar to its pioneering work in the area of wind forecasting, the NYISO began evaluating potential solar forecasting systems earlier this year and is on track to have a system in place by summer 2017. The experience of other regions undergoing similar growth in intermittent energy resources confirms the importance of monitoring the capability to serve regulation and ramping needs as wind and solar PV penetration increases and displaces conventional generation.

The NYISO study noted that a recent study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) concluded that the nationwide technical potential for rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) system is 1,118 GW of installed capacity and 1,432 terawatt-hours (TWh) of annual energy generation, equal to 39% of total national electric sales. The NREL study found that New York State has the potential to install 46.4 GW of rooftop solar PV systems, which could produce 55.3 TWh of annual energy generation, 37.4% of New York’s annual electric sales.

The NREL acknowledges that its assessments “provide an upper bound on potential deployment rather than a prediction of actual deployment.” Nevertheless, the NREL findings clearly indicate that the impact of rooftop solar PV systems on the future of the electric system can be significant, said the NYISO study.

The growth of solar PV energy as a source of electric generation is being strongly influenced by various public policy initiatives, including programs established by New York in the State Energy Plan. The NY-Sun Initiative (NY-Sun) was announced in 2012. In April 2014, following two successful years of solar PV installations, a commitment of nearly $1 billion was made to NY-Sun.

NY-Sun brings together and expands programs administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, Long Island Power Authority, PSEG Long Island and the New York Power Authority, and is designed to result in 3,000 MW of behind-the-meter installed PV capacity by the end of 2023. In 2016, financing for the NY-Sun program was incorporated in the Clean Energy Fund, one component of New York State’s Reforming the Energy Vision initiative.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.