Grid Technologies, Operators Ensuring Ample, Reliable Electricity

alt   Editor in chief
TERESA HANSEN

You probably don’t work at electricity generating units, but you should be aware of recent fossil generation regulations and initiatives that will reach beyond generation into power delivery and customer engagement.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Sept. 20 released proposed pollution standards for new fossil-fired power plants, which, if approved, will require new coal-fired generating units to emit far less carbon dioxide (CO2) than existing plants. The proposed limits are so tight that new plants could reach them only by implementing carbon capture and storage technology, which is still unproven and expensive. In addition, the same rule proposes limits for natural gas-fired plants’ CO2 emissions that are some 20 percent higher than current average emissions. It’s easy to conclude that most new fossil plants will burn natural gas.

A few days after the EPA announcement, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations-sponsored group of the world’s top scientists, completed a climate change report. The full report hasn’t been released, but a summary is available in which the panel endorses a “carbon budget.” If adopted, it would restrict coal plant emissions even more.

The Clinton Global Initiative, a nonprofit founded by President Bill Clinton to address world challenges including climate change, held its annual meeting recently. One of the main agendas covered building resilient cities and coastlines. Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg among others spoke about global warming’s contribution to extreme weather events and coastal flooding. They called for greater restrictions on coal-fired plants and more renewable energy.

These rules and calls to action are the latest on a growing list that will hinder coal-fired generation and affect electricity delivery.

In the article “Intelligent Load Management-The Future of Demand-side Management” on Page 25, you’ll read how smart grid’s advanced technologies allow transmission operators to integrate wind into the grid and create virtual power plants, helping stabilize the grid and meet capacity needs as fewer fossil-fired plants are dispatched. In “Utilities, Commercial Building Owners Win With Distributed Energy Storage” on Page 28, you’ll learn how intelligent energy storage, smart grid and smart buildings can reduce energy consumption and the need for new generation and turn solar installations into virtual power plants. And in “An Economical Addition to Grid-tied Wind Energy Systems” on Page 22, you’ll read that power conditioning and energy storage systems can improve grid efficiency, reduce the need for more generation and replace some spinning reserve generation.

The generation mix is changing fast. These articles show that grid technologies and operators are committed to ensuring ample, reliable electricity is available in these tumultuous times.

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