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Untapped Opportunities for Grid Reliability Improvement

06 December 2016 by

Hydropower generation has been shown to provide the most substantial component of Primary Frequency Control of any generation type in the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) [1]. Primary Frequency Control is an important component of grid reliability and as such is regulated by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC). This paper explores the untapped potential for increasing hydro's role in improving grid reliability via Primary Frequency Control by adding or maintaining governor systems at smaller plants. Approximately two-thirds of the hydro-turbines in North America are below 10 MW and are not subject to NERC Primary Frequency Control regulations. Primary Frequency Control support is voluntary for owners and operators of these power plants. This paper will discuss the various practical considerations and examine the costs and benefits of maintenance or modernization of these smaller hydro-turbines to increase hydropower's contribution to grid stability. A wide range of aspects will be considered; not only direct costs and benefits, but indirect costs and benefits as well, such as the opportunity costs of finding substitute capacity in energy markets or balancing authorities.

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