Managing Large-Scale Penetration of Intermittent Renewables

How renewable energy standards affect power system capacity planning and operations.


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About the report

On April 20, 2011, the MIT Energy Initiative held a symposium on Managing Large-Scale Penetration of Intermittent Renewables. The focus of the symposium was on how renewable energy standards affect power system capacity planning and operations, assuming affordable, scalable electricity storage options will not be available for at least a decade, and probably more. Until such breakthroughs materialize, capacity planning and implementation are still required. Currently, 29 US states and 27 EU countries have renewable energy standards. As countries increasingly embrace intermittent renewable resources, they will confront the operational challenges this poses for baseload power generation and generators. The results of the symposium, including commissioned white papers and other submitted technical papers, will be included in the report that will be available at the event.

The symposium’s 70 participants, all experts with wide-ranging backgrounds and points of view, helped to frame the issues, opportunities, and challenges associated with managing intermittent renewables. The symposium was organized into four panels that addressed key issues: (1) the flexible operation of thermal power plants, (2) economic impacts of flexible generation, (3) the transmission grid and system operations, and (4) intermittent renewable generation policies and regulations. This report reflects the major points of discussion, and presents a range of possible “next steps” for the consideration of policy makers and other interested individuals and entities.

This symposium, sponsored by MITEI members, Cummins, Hess, Entergy and Exelon, is part of the MIT Energy Initiative’s Associate Member symposium series which brings together subject matter experts for a day-long, highly informed and interactive discussion of timely energy issues. The objective was to provide policy makers, industry, academia and non-governmental organizations with analysis, data and findings to inform their policy development and decision-making on a critical topic.

It is important to note that this is a report on the proceedings and papers that informed those proceedings; it is not a study. The report represents a range of views from those at the symposium and, where possible, includes consensus or general recommendations from the presenters and participants; it is in no way intended to represent the views of all the participants, the individual participants, or of the rapporteurs.