Evaluating the Curtailment Risk of Non-Firm Utility-Scale Solar Photovoltaic Plants under a Novel Last-In First-Out Principle of Access Interconnection Agreement
Sedzro, Kwami Senam A.
Jain, Akshay K.
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With the increasing share of distributed energy resources on the electric grid, utility companies are facing significant decisions about infrastructure upgrades. An alternative to extensive and capital-intensive upgrades is to offer non-firm interconnection opportunities to distributed generators, via a coordinated operation of utility scale resources. This paper introduces a novel flexible interconnection option based on the last-in, first-out principles of access aimed at minimizing the unnecessary non-firm generation energy curtailment by balancing access rights and contribution to thermal overloads. Although we focus on solar photovoltaic (PV) plants in this work, the introduced flexible interconnection option applies to any distributed generation technology. The curtailment risk of individual non-firm PV units is evaluated across a range of PV penetration levels in a yearlong quasi-static time-series simulation on a real-world feeder. The results show the importance of the size of the curtailment zone in the curtailment risk distribution among flexible generation units as well as that of the “access right” defined by the order in which PV units connect to the grid. Case study results reveal that, with a proper selection of curtailment radius, utilities can reduce the total curtailment of flexible PV resources by up to more than 45%. Findings show that non-firm PV generators can effectively avoid all thermal limit-related upgrade costs.