Levelling the intermittency of renewables with coal - costs and risks

Presented by

Dr Lesley Sloss

About this talk

Countries are setting ever higher goals for producing power from clean, renewable energies and some are actively turning their backs on fossil fuels. However, many of these regions are discovering the real challenges of trying to produce baseload power for public consumption from renewable sources which are, at best, intermittent, and, at worse, unpredictable and unreliable. Until large scale energy storage is available and affordable, baseload power from coal, gas, and/or nuclear will remain necessary in many regions for several more years. Obviously this baseload power is required when renewable output is low (when the sun doesn't shine and the wind doesn't blow). However, it is also still required to make up the balance of power in a diverse energy mix. Under the new energy policy regimes in many regions, renewable sources have priority into the grid and sit in the guaranteed dispatch mix in the base region which coal used to occupy. Coal has now been nudged into the dispatchable area of the mix, being asked to ramp up or down or even to idle or run beyond normal capacity, sometimes at short notice, to produce the balance of power required to maintain grid output. And whilst coal plants can run relatively flexibly, this does not come without cost. Most older coal-fired units were designed to run at steady output. Asking these plants to cycle and ramp puts stresses on the plant which can result in added cost, less efficient production, increased wear and tear and, in some cases, damage causing enforced outages for repair and/or upgrade. This webinar, looks at the stresses placed on coal-fired plants as they are asked to help levelise and counterbalance the intermittency of renewable sources, concentrating on the risks and costs. Case studies and examples of issues being encountered in the USA, the UK and Germany are included.

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