NYS winters could pose solar farm 'ramping' snag for power grid

May 28, 2019

ITHACA, N.Y. - By adding utility-scale solar farms throughout New York state, summer electricity demand from conventional sources could be reduced by up to 9.6 percent in some places.

But Cornell University engineers caution that upstate winters tell a different tale. With low energy demand around midday in the winter, combined with solar-electricity production, New York's power system could face volatile swings of "ramping" - which is how power system operators describe quick increases or decreases in demand.

"It's a very surprising finding," said senior author Max Zhang, associate professor at Cornell's Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. "When are you going to have maximum ramping take place in New York? It's not going to be in the summer when the solar power is the highest and the needs are more balanced. It turns out to be in the winter. When you have several days of sunshine in a row during winter, that causes the largest ramping on the power system in New York state."

The paper, "Strategic Planning for Utility-Scale Solar Photovoltaic Development - Historical Peak Events Revisited," was published in Applied Energy. In addition to Zhang, co-authors are Cornell doctoral candidates Jeff Sward and Jiajun Gu, and Jackson Siff.

Ramping makes the grid less efficient, because system operators then must employ natural gas or other carbon methods to keep up with demand, Sward said. "This paper can inform regional development trends and could lead to the improvement of electricity transmission from upstate to downstate."

"The increasing ramping requirement will be a challenge in pursuing our renewable energy target," said Zhang, "but it can be met with flexible resources, both in the supply and demand sides, as well as energy storage."
-end-
As part of the paper, Siff worked with David Kay, senior extension associate in development sociology, with Cornell's Community and Regional Development Institute to conduct spatial analysis of New York state land parcels in order to identify places where utility-scale solar farms could work best.

Jennifer Ifft, assistant professor of Cornell's Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, consulted on the research. Mackenzie Kinard, M.Eng. , Kaleb Rousch, M.Eng., and Danyang Guo, a visiting doctoral student from the Harbin Institute of Technology, also consulted on this paper. Cornell's Northeast Regional Climate Center provided the solar and other meteorological data for the analysis.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the Atkinson Center funded the paper.

Cornell University has dedicated television and audio studios available for media interviews supporting full HD, ISDN and web-based platforms.

Cornell University

Related Power System Articles from Brightsurf:

Power-free system harnesses evaporation to keep items cool
MIT researchers have developed a two-layer passive cooling system, made of hydrogel and aerogel, that can keep foods and pharmaceuticals cool for days without the need for electricity.

Researchers design efficient low-cost system for producing power at night
Researchers have designed an off-grid, low-cost modular energy source that can efficiently produce power at night.

Elliott Fisher proposes "single system solution" for US healthcare system
To improve care, lower costs, and heal the wounds caused by a system that delegates many Americans to the separate and unequal ''safety net,'' policy makers should establish a single system of universal coverage and payment models where all are entitled to the same benefits and care, where comprehensive information supports improvement, and where transparency empowers the market to improve quality and lower costs through informed choices of population health organizations, providers, and treatments.

Decision support system within the EHR system can increase provider awareness of CKD
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects approximately 37 million U.S. adults and less than 25% are aware of their disease.

A novel active photonic wireless system to power medical implants
Medical implants, such as pacemakers, serve various functions in patients and help to improve their quality of life.

The collective power of the solar system's dark, icy bodies
Two new studies by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder may help to solve one of the biggest mysteries about the dark, icy bodies of the outer solar system: why so many of them don't circle the sun the way they should.

New system uses wind turbines to defend the national grid from power cuts
A 'smart' system that controls the storage and release of energy from wind turbines will reduce the risk of power cuts and support the increase of wind energy use world-wide, say researchers at the University of Birmingham.

Crystal power
Scientists at the US Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory have created and tested a single-crystal electrode that promises to yield pivotal discoveries for advanced batteries under development worldwide.

The power of light
As COVID-19 continues to ravage global populations, the world is singularly focused on finding ways to battle the novel coronavirus.

Power dressing
Sensors that are worn on the skin could soon be powered by our own body heat.

Read More: Power System News and Power System Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.