Big, Fast and Flexible: Grid Operations for Efficient Variable Renewable Integration (Webinar)

11 October 2016

The Clean Energy Solutions Center, in partnership with U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), hosted this webinar titled, Big, Fast and Flexible: Grid Operations for Efficient Variable Renewable Integration. The webinar is part of the toolkit, a USAID and NREL collaboration designed to support countries in integrating renewable energy into the power system.

A growing body of research and operational experience highlights the value of large balancing areas and fast system operations to cost-effectively integrating high penetrations of wind and solar on the grid. The institutional and regulatory context governing a power system strongly shapes the strategies available for increasing both the size and speed of its operations. For example, wholesale power markets can take advantage of competitive mechanisms such as energy imbalance markets to coordinate with neighboring power systems to expand the balancing footprint. In contrast, vertically integrated monopolies may rely more on policy, internal dispatch processes and contractual mechanisms to improve access to diverse balancing resources.

Participants in this webinar discussed three different pathways, along with implementation considerations and examples for each, for enhancing the size and speed of grid operations for efficient variable renewable integration. Discussion topics included:

  • “Big and fast:” two design principles for systems with large amount of variable renewable energy
  • Examples and implementation considerations for achieving big, fast systems:
    • Wholesale power markets
    • State-owned and operated systems
    • Regulated vertically integrated utilities

The webinar will be presented by Dr. Michael Milligan from NREL and will be followed by an interactive question and answer session with the audience, moderated by Dr. Jennifer Leisch from USAID.


Michael MilliganMichael Milligan

Michael Milligan, Ph.D., came to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s National Wind Technology Center in 1992, and he is now with the Transmission and Grid Integration Group at NREL. His research focuses on large-scale integration of wind and solar energy on the bulk power system, on which he has authored or coauthored more than 200 journal articles, conference papers, technical reports and book chapters. Michael has provided expert testimony in numerous public utility commission proceedings and workshops, and he advises power system planners and operators on wind and solar integration issues. He leads and participates in various task forces for the North American Electric Reliability Corporation), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Power and Energy Society and the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC). His sustained participation on the International Energy Agency Task 25 for large-scale wind integration helped launch a continuing series of international technical papers on integration issues. He was an invited panelist in 2012 to the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin and an invited keynote speaker at the 2011 Power System Computation Conference in Stockholm. He has hosted visiting researchers from Germany, Ireland, Spain, Australia, China and Italy.

Jennifer LeischJennifer Leisch

Jennifer Leisch is a Climate Change Mitigation Specialist in the USAID Office of Global Climate Change, where she supports the U.S. Enhancing Capacity for Low Emission Development Strategies program. Jennifer manages the USAID Greening the Grid partnership, and she directs agency work to account for greenhouse gas emissions reductions as a result of USAID Clean Energy programs. She holds a Ph.D. focused on renewable energy science, and she has previously worked in the research and development of advanced solar energy and fuel cell technologies.