- The Midcontinent ISO has launched a multiyear study of renewable energy integration and its impacts on grid reliability, aiming to inform future discussions of resource needs.
- The study is in its early stages, and the scope of the analysis will be set at MISO's next Planning Advisory Committee meeting.
- The study will address any limitations to renewable energy integration, including whether battery storage is required and which areas of the grid might first be impacted by the change in resources.
Midcontinent ISO had minimal renewable resources just a decade ago, but next year is expected to top 20 GW. While it's still heavy on coal-fired power, the grid operator is predicting continued growth in carbon-free energy and is beginning to study how the current grid might restrict that.
Among questions which will be addressed: Which areas of the grid will be stressed first, how much renewable energy can be deployed before significant system changes are needed, are there limits to the integration of non-dispatchable power, and will energy storage be needed?
The study "will be used to facilitate a broader conversation about renewable energy-driven impacts on the reliability of the electric system," according to a slide deck of planning documents. And it will "facilitate a broader conversation about renewable energy-driven impacts of fleet change on the reliability of the electric system."
The study is a technical impact assessment, and MISO is not planning projects or policy changes as a direct result of the study.
It was just last year that MISO integrated the first solar farm into its wholesale market. The 100-MW North Star solar farm is located outside of Minneapolis and is the largest solar facility in the Midwest. Several large solar farms have been built in the MISO region, but North Star was the first that can trade its electrical output in the wholesale energy market.
Results of the ISO's fifth annual Planning Resource Auction were revealed earlier this year, and yielded 135,000 MW of resources for demand and reserves in the 2017-2018 planning year. The auction saw increased demand resources and energy efficiency over the 2016-17 planning year, as well as increases in renewable resources of both wind and solar.