Flexibility at all costs?

13 oktober 2016

Over the past years, we have seen a large increase in electricity production based on renewable energy sources (RES) like solar photovoltaics (PV) and wind – and policy targets at the European and national levels aim for a further increase. For example, Europe set a target of 20% renewable energy production by 2020 and 27% by 2030. The final goal of these targets is to reduce, as much as possible, primary energy use from fossil sources.

Nobody questions the useful contributions of these renewable sources to lowering the emissions of CO2 and polluting substances (NOx, SO2, dust, etc). There are, however, some drawbacks that need tackling as well. A system with a large share of intermittent production demands a large amount of flexible downward and upward capacity. Besides demand side management and storage solutions, both still strongly in development, flexible production is one of the key assets for facing these challenges. It is important to note, however, that these flexibility solutions all come with a cost both energetic and financial. E.g., the electrical efficiency of a flexible operated CCGT is 5% to 25% lower depending on the operation mode. Furthermore, the investment cost for a flexible combined heat and power (CHP) system can be 15% to 20% higher with respect to a baseload CHP installation.

Full article can be found: here.