In general, a grid integration study can accomplish any of the following objectives:
- Identifies future generation and transmission portfolios to achieve RE targets at least-cost while maintaining reliability objectives;
- Simulates the operation of the power system under different future RE-penetration scenarios and at different timescales;
- Identifies reliability constraints associated with different RE scenarios; and/or
- Determines the relative cost of actions to integrate high levels of variable RE
Your TRC should define the specific objectives of the grid integration study based on the context and clean power goals of your power system.
A successful grid integration study’s objectives will reflect the policies and goals that intersect with your power system. For example, economic development goals may suggest study objectives that differ from those suggested by rural electrification goals—or they may not.
Alignment with policy and policy goals will play a central role in securing decision maker buy-in throughout your study, and enabling decision maker action when the study is finished.
The choice of which analysis or combination of analyses to implement depends on the policy-relevant questions that best address a country’s priorities. For example, if planners are in the process of evaluating the optimal energy supply mix to meet long-term policy goals, a capacity expansion analysis that focuses on generation and transmission build-out may be most valuable, especially if it is complemented by production cost analysis to test the operational impacts of various expansion scenarios. On the other hand, if power system planners and operators are seeking to prioritize the near- and medium-term actions they can take to improve the flexibility of the power system, production cost analysis may provide the best framework. Power flow modeling can be the most relevant approach to address concerns from the system operator about the reliability implications that high variable RE scenarios might pose to the electricity grid.
Text excerpt from by 4 of NREL: Variable Renewable Energy Grid Integration Studies Guide: A Guidebook for Practitioners
With your policy priorities in mind, you can refine the questions you might ask. For example, if economic development is your policy goal, you may wish to ask “How will different variable RE penetration scenarios impact economic development indicators?” and “What policies might be needed to achieve those RE penetration scenarios?”
Review the questions that grid integration studies, and different power system models, most commonly address.
Grid integration studies can answer many types of questions, and support action on many different policy goals. Take a look at how other power systems have used grid integration studies to meet their needs.