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U.S. transmission operator MISO says it can cope with 50% renewable generation

February 11, 2021

S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):

The Midcontinent ISO, the electric transmission grid operator for 15 U.S. states spanning from the Upper Midwest to the Gulf Coast along with the Canadian province of Manitoba, has concluded that renewable energy resources can grow their market share beyond 50% in its service territory.

But such a sweeping transformation of its natural gas- and coal-heavy power mix can only happen with coordinated actions among market participants and other stakeholders, including a “transformational change in planning, markets, and operations,” the grid operator, known as MISO, said in a report released Feb. 10.

“MISO, our members and the entire industry are poised on the precipice of great change as we are being asked to rapidly integrate far more renewable resources,” MISO President and COO Clair Moeller said in a statement. “Given our regional reliability imperative, MISO must act quickly, deliberately and collaboratively to ensure that the planning, markets, operations and systems keep pace with the changes. We can achieve great change together.”

Renewable energy, largely wind power, accounts for 13% of MISO’s systemwide energy today, according to MISO. The grid operator estimates that share could jump to 30% as soon as 2026.

MISO’s wind fleet could surge to more than 35 GW by 2026 from roughly 25 GW in 2020 and its solar capacity could jump to approximately 10.8 GW by that time, from less than 2 GW entering 2021, S&P Global Market Intelligence data shows. The grid operator also has about 7,700 MW of hydroelectric generation and 2,500 MW of pumped hydro storage connected to its grid, according to Market Intelligence data. Both are forecast to grow only slowly through 2026.

The report highlights several new challenges that MISO and other stakeholders must navigate to ensure that the grid remains reliable as renewables grow and conventional generators retire. That includes a “new stability risk,” especially in areas with clusters of variable renewable energy resources, according to the report. “As inverter-based resources displace conventional generators, the grid loses the stability contributions of physically spinning conventional units,” it said. Adding high-voltage direct current transmission lines to interconnect new renewables to less variable parts of the grid and installing battery storage and new inverters with advanced capabilities can help stabilize the grid with higher renewable energy penetration, it said.

[Garrett Hering]

More ($): MISO foresees ‘transformational change’ of grid, majority renewable power

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