Handling renewable energy variability and uncertainty in power systems operation

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Ricardo Jorge Bessa
Carlos Moreira
Bernardo Silva
Manuel Matos
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The concerns about global warming (greenhouse-gas emissions), scarcity of fossil fuels reserves, and primary energy independence of regions or countries have led to a dramatic increase of renewable energy sources (RES) penetration in electric power systems, mainly wind and solar power. This created new challenges associated with the variability and uncertainty of these sources. Handling these two characteristics is a key issue that includes technological, regulatory, and computational aspects. Advanced tools for handling RES maximize the resultant benefits and keep the reliability indices at the required level. Recent advances in forecasting and management algorithms provided means to manage RES. Forecasts of renewable generation for the next hours/days play a crucial role in the management tools and protocols of the system operator. These forecasts are used as input for setting reserve requirements and performing the unit commitment (UC) and economic dispatch (ED) processes. Probabilistic forecasts are being included in the management tools, enabling a move from deterministic to stochastic methods, which conduct to robust solutions. On the technological side, advances to increase mid-merit and base-load generation flexibility should be a priority. The use of storage devices to mitigate uncertainty and variability is particularly valuable for isolated power system, whereas in interconnected systems, economic criteria might be a barrier to invest in new storage facilities. The possibility of sending active and reactive control set points to RES power plants offers more flexibility. Furthermore, the emergence of the smart grid concept and the increasing share of controllable loads contribute with flexibility to increase the RES penetration levels. (C) 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.