Beyond fuel security: Reliability, resilience and a more sustainable future through grid flexibility

Boosting grid flexibility

In contrast, distributed generation, energy storage, micro-grids and self-healing grid technology can help manage reliability and resilience issues, and isolate grid threats to keep them from affecting other parts of the system. These resources can also boost grid flexibility.

According to DOE, flexibility is the capability of the power system to maintain balance between generation and load under uncertainty. Improving grid flexibility thus achieves the ends sought by fuel security.

But flexibility does more, by enabling a broader range of resources to compete to provide resilience-related services, including fast-starting technologies that can be more cost-effective in balancing supply and demand in the face of uncertainty. Improving flexibility also prepares our grid for a low-emissions future by employing technologies capable of smoothing out variability in renewable generation, while enabling customers to better control their electricity usage and save money.

In contrast, fuel security measures could lock in the grid of the past by crowding out new investment by maintaining older, less efficient power plants.

Moreover, fuel security measures rewarding baseload power plants that cannot be quickly turned on and ramped by grid operators or power plants that have firm, must-take fuel supply contracts would reduce grid flexibility.