Researchers have found that regions with large investment in renewable energy have stronger electric grids, contrary to popular belief.
Select policymakers and industry advocated have said that state and federal policies that support renewable energy put the reliability of the electric grid at risk by pushing nuclear and coal power plants into early closure.
However, a new report from consulting firm Analysis Group concludes the evidence is not in support of such claims.
By adding renewable energy capacity and new natural gas-fired units, the nation’s electric reliability is being increased rather than jeopardised, says the report.
“Electricity Markets, Reliability and the Evolving U.S. Power System,” is the title of the report, and it was released just days before the Department of Energy staff were scheduled to provide a report in the impact renewable energy has on the nation’s power grid.
Rick Perry, US Energy Secretary, directed his staff to organise the report and complete it in 60 days, and bystanders were concerned that it would be put together in favour of the coal industry.
The report suggests various advanced energy technologies such as efficient natural gas-fired generation and renewables provide benefits of reliability due to increasing the electric system diversity.
Wind and solar power is becoming more common in certain regions and the trend of reliability performance in these areas is improving, according to the report.
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Retirement of coal and nuclear power plants a ‘natural’ occurence
The report explains further that the closure of aging coal and nuclear power plants “is a natural element of efficient and competitive market forces, and where markets are performing well, these retirements mainly represent the efficient exit of uncompetitive assets, and will lead to lower electricity prices for consumers over time,”.
Funding from the Advanced Energy Economy Institute and American Wind Energy Association prepared the report.
An additional report by the Advanced Energy Economy Institute (AEEI) made note of the nation’s electricity generation mix changes over the past decade.
The AEEI stated the transition to a more diverse resource mix was driven mostly by consistently low prices for natural gas, flat electricity demand and renewables competition.
The technologies and operational techniques used widely today will allow the grid to continue to reliably integrate much higher levels of natural gas and various renewables, as well as demand-side resources, the report concludes.