Today at work I attended a training about how to handle settlements in the energy imbalance market (EIM). It was a long training, but that is not the point. The point is that this is a new market place that has developed in recent years for industrial suppliers of power to be able to ramp up and ramp down their generation as the grid demands. One of the main reasons that this market has developed is because of the large addition of variable renewable energy (VRE). VRE is energy like solar and wind that has large swings in its output.
In my post ‘The Energy Storage Challenge’ I talked about how we need to develop more storage technologies and increase their presence in the market. That is still very true but until we get to that point the energy community has come up with this solution to get us through the transition. The idea is that we can look at the bigger picture of all of the electricity available on the grid. Then when the sun goes down or some clouds cover a certain area, this EIM can dispatch more power from another generator that is also on the grid.
This is a pretty good temporary solution, and it allows the grid to remain stable but it means we are still heavily reliant on non-renewable energy sources. Basically for every megawatt of wind or solar energy that is produced, we still have to have 1 MW of coal or natural gas to offset it. So we are still dependent on these other technologies. This dependence will continue until we are able to transition into mode where we can generate extra solar energy in the day and store it so that we can use it at night time.
I think this blog post went a little into the weeds but if you have any thoughts on the EIM please leave a comment below.
Lead Photo Credit: http://lighttalk.via-verlag.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/solarcoal-620×330.jpg
Story Photo Credit: http://static4.businessinsider.com/image/529e0871eab8ea8f3b69ae5e/green-energy-could-crash-the-us-power-grid.jpg