The integration of renewable power generation resources, whose outputs vary with the sun and wind, will have significant implications for natural gas and natural gas infrastructure, such as pipelines and storage, according to a new white paper by consultancy ICF International.

Natural gas will play a significant role in supporting the expansion of renewable generation, which will have impacts in the form of operational changes, infrastructure requirements and cost recovery issues, ICF said in “Integrating Variable Renewable Electric Power Generators and the Natural Gas Infrastructure.”

Examples of changes to address the requirements include enhanced linepack, applications of new no-notice and gas storage services specifically designed for power generation, increases in the number of nomination cycles, and reductions in the length of nomination cycles.

“The electric industry has been discussing the significant challenges of integrating large amounts of renewable energy into the power grid. Our analysis is intended to expand that discussion to assess the implications of renewable generation for the natural gas delivery infrastructure, which is likely to be called upon to provide the fuel for firming capacity,” said Judah Rose, co-author of the paper.

Gas industry stakeholders are increasingly focused on the concept of a “smarter,” more flexible gas delivery system. Eventually the two need to coalesce, a Gas Technology Institute expert told NGI recently (see Daily GPI, Sept. 27).

The natural gas pipeline system has considerable operational flexibility for reliably supplying natural gas to firming generators at their required pressures, ICF said. “Nevertheless, new facilities may need to be constructed at some locations to guarantee reliable on-demand gas service to support changing generator needs resulting from increased renewable generation.”

ICF describes three scenarios that illustrate the potential impacts of variable renewable generation on natural gas-fired power plants and gas infrastructure.

The first addresses long-term utility planning, in which utilities plan to meet 800 MW of demand growth with gas-fired capacity, but changing circumstances result in 800 MW of wind additions. The second looks at utility renewable portfolio standard (RPS) planning, in which utilities add 800 MW of wind to meet RPS requirements in the absence of forecast electric load growth. In the third scenario, the integration is not handled in the context of a utility system with supply and demand interactions. Rather, the renewable producers must arrange to eliminate the deviation in wind output from forecasted output within a day or less.

©Copyright 2011Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. The preceding news reportmay not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in anyform, without prior written consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.