A grid-level unit commitment assessment of high wind penetration and utilization of compressed air energy storage in ERCOT



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Emerging integration of renewable energy has prompted a wide range of research on the use of energy storage to compensate for the added uncertainty that accompanies these resources. In the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), compressed air energy storage (CAES) has drawn particular attention because Texas has suitable geology and also lacks appropriate resources and locations for pumped hydroelectric storage (PHS). While there have been studies on incorporation of renewable energy, utilization of energy storage, and dispatch optimization, this is the first body of work to integrate all these subjects along with the proven ability to recreate historical dispatch and price conditions. To quantify the operational behavior, economic feasibility, and environmental impacts of CAES, this work utilized sophisticated unit commitment and dispatch (UC&D) models that determine the least-cost dispatch for meeting a set of grid and generator constraints. This work first addressed the ability of these models to recreate historical dispatch and price conditions through a calibration analysis that incorporated major model improvements such as capacity availability and sophisticated treatment of combined heat and power (CHP) plants. These additions appreciably improved the consistency of the model results when compared to historical ERCOT conditions. An initial UC&D model was used to investigate the impacts on the dispatch of a future high wind generation scenario with the potential to utilize numerous CAES facilities. For all future natural gas prices considered, the addition of CAES led to reduced use of high marginal cost generator types, increased use of base-load generator types, and average reductions in the total operating costs of 3.7 million dollars per week. Additional analyses demonstrated the importance of allowing CAES to participate in all available energy and ancillary services (AS) markets and that a reduction in future thermal capacity would increase the use of CAES. A second UC&D model, which incorporated advanced features like variable marginal heat rates, was used to analyze the influence of future wind generation variability on the dispatch and resulting environmental impacts. This analysis revealed that higher amounts of wind variability led to an increase in the daily net load ramping requirements which resulted in less use of coal and nuclear generators in favor of faster ramping units along with reductions in emissions and water use. The changes to the net load also resulted in increased volatility of the energy and AS prices between daily minimum and maximum levels. These impacts were also found to increase with compounding intensity as higher levels of wind variability were reached. Lastly, the advanced UC&D model was also used to evaluate the operational behavior and potential economic feasibility of a first entrant conventional or adiabatic CAES system. Both storage systems were found to operate in a single mode that enabled very high utilization of their capacity indicating both systems have highly desirable characteristics. The results suggest that there is a positive case for the investment in a first entrant CAES facility in the ERCOT market.