Investigation of factors driving the costs of operating the 2020 Irish power system with large-scale wind generation

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McGarrigle, Edward V.
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University College Cork
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The main goal of this work is to determine the true cost incurred by the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland in order to meet their EU renewable electricity targets. The primary all-island of Ireland policy goal is that 40% of electricity will come from renewable sources in 2020. From this it is expected that wind generation on the Irish electricity system will be in the region of 32-37% of total generation. This leads to issues resulting from wind energy being a non-synchronous, unpredictable and variable source of energy use on a scale never seen before for a single synchronous system. If changes are not made to traditional operational practices, the efficient running of the electricity system will be directly affected by these issues in the coming years. Using models of the electricity system for the all-island grid of Ireland, the effects of high wind energy penetration expected to be present in 2020 are examined. These models were developed using a unit commitment, economic dispatch tool called PLEXOS which allows for a detailed representation of the electricity system to be achieved down to individual generator level. These models replicate the true running of the electricity system through use of day-ahead scheduling and semi-relaxed use of these schedules that reflects the Transmission System Operator's of real time decision making on dispatch. In addition, it carefully considers other non-wind priority dispatch generation technologies that have an effect on the overall system. In the models developed, three main issues associated with wind energy integration were selected to be examined in detail to determine the sensitivity of assumptions presented in other studies. These three issues include wind energy's non-synchronous nature, its variability and spatial correlation, and its unpredictability. This leads to an examination of the effects in three areas: the need for system operation constraints required for system security; different onshore to offshore ratios of installed wind energy; and the degrees of accuracy in wind energy forecasting. Each of these areas directly impact the way in which the electricity system is run as they address each of the three issues associated with wind energy stated above, respectively. It is shown that assumptions in these three areas have a large effect on the results in terms of total generation costs, wind curtailment and generator technology type dispatch. In particular accounting for these issues has resulted in wind curtailment being predicted in much larger quantities than had been previously reported. This would have a large effect on wind energy companies because it is already a very low profit margin industry. Results from this work have shown that the relaxation of system operation constraints is crucial to the economic running of the electricity system with large improvements shown in the reduction of wind curtailment and system generation costs. There are clear benefits in having a proportion of the wind installed offshore in Ireland which would help to reduce variability of wind energy generation on the system and therefore reduce wind curtailment. With envisaged future improvements in day-ahead wind forecasting from 8% to 4% mean absolute error, there are potential reductions in wind curtailment system costs and open cycle gas turbine usage. This work illustrates the consequences of assumptions in the areas of system operation constraints, onshore/offshore installed wind capacities and accuracy in wind forecasting to better inform the true costs associated with running Ireland's changing electricity system as it continues to decarbonise into the near future. This work also proposes to illustrate, through the use of Ireland as a case study, the effects that will become ever more prevalent in other synchronous systems as they pursue a path of increasing renewable energy generation.
System operational constraints , Wind energy , Non-synchronous generation , Wind curtailment , Unit commitment , Ireland , Wind forecasting , Autoregressive moving average , Stochastic unit commitment , Power systems , Offshore wind , Spatial correlation
McGarrigle, E. V. 2014. Investigation of factors driving the costs of operating the 2020 Irish power system with large-scale wind generation. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.