NERC: Changing resource mix tightening reserve margins
The rapid shift from coal and nuclear generation to more intermittent renewables and natural gas is creating new challenges for the North American electric grid, including declining resource adequacy as soon as next year in at least one region.
“The accelerating move toward natural gas and renewables means the industry must adopt a more robust approach to planning the bulk power system so that it continues to be reliably operated,” said John Moura, NERC’s director of reliability assessment and system analysis.
Retirements of conventional generation in Texas and a canceled nuclear expansion South Carolina mean that reserve margins will drop below targets beginning in 2018 and 2020, respectively, NERC said. Otherwise, reserve margins are adequate until 2022.
Coal and nuclear retirements have outpaced conventional generation additions, NERC’s review concluded. Retirement plans have been announced for 14 nuclear units, totaling 10.5 GW.
Gas-fired capacity is expanding rapidly to meet the demand. According to the report, gas-fired capacity increased to 442 GW this year, from 280 GW in 2009. And there is almost 45 GW of additional gas capacity planned over the next 10 years.
Wind generation accounts for more than 10% of total installed capacity in six areas, with 14.8 GW of additions projected during the next decade. A total of 37 GW of solar additions are projected by 2022; of those, 22 GW are distributed. According to NERC, that raises “visibility concerns for system planners.”