ERCOT Generation Interconnection Process and Requirements
with Hugo Mena

Electric Grid Interconnection Basics for Utility Scale PV Projects

Presentation Slides

Electric Grid Interconnection

Hugo can be contacted directly via email: Email Hugo

The lecture presented by EPE Consulting Chief Engineer Hugo Mena on Thursday February 7th was an intense look at the big picture behind utility scale solar and the challenges that may arise along the path of project development.

The process of utility interconnection is fairly arduous, detailed and time consuming- but totally doable. If you feel like taking a project like this on- just do it. There is a system to make it happen, and through careful studies and adaptation it IS happening.

Many people and machines take part in this process- agreements must be forged and agreed upon, studies must be done, equipment must be synchronized, plans must be approved, and that’s just really a slice of the work which could take up to 2 years.

It was very interesting to find out that one of the most common problems along the way is module and inverter selection. By the time a project reaches the point where connecting with the grid is within reach it is very likely that a change in equipment selection may be desired or necessary. The modules that made sense in the beginning of the project may no longer be the ideal choice- new technology may come along that is more efficient or affordable, and the original design may include equipment that is even no longer available.

Another big problem that is being studied right now is is how to deal with the change in power production levels caused by the variability in solar resource: when a cloud comes between the sun and the array, a momentary drop in production will occur. With systems up to 500 MW in size, this could pose a real problem to the grid, and it must be dealt with in a way that still allows power to flow through the grid steadily at almost exactly 60Hz.

Who absorbs the cost of modifying the grid to accommodate new energy sources like solar, wind, hydro or even old fashioned coal? The customer does- but the project developer will be responsible for power stations,needed transformers, and research/studies costs.

These are just a few of the topics covered and questions that were answered in this lecture presented by Chief Engineer Hugo Mena. It was very intriguing to get an inside look at what is really involved in the process of utility scale solar PV deployment, and it’s nice to see that no matter how difficult the process may seem- we are adapting, and clean energy abounds!

SEIA Market Insight report states that PV installations totaled 742 megawatts (MW) in the second quarter of 2012- that’s up 45% over the first quarter of 2012 and 116% over the second quarter of 2011!

 

EPE is proud to announce the launch of IENet, a partnership with IGM International, V-Bar and Walsh Environmental. IENet is a competitive, one-stop alternative for independent engineering services. http://ie-network.net

Feed Your Brain

Download the article: New ERCOT Report Shows That Texas Wind And Solar Are Highly Competitive With Natural Gas

Visit: epe consulting.com

Learn: Where are the largest PV projects in the world?

About ERCOT: “… ERCOT schedules power on an electric grid that connects 40,500 miles of transmission lines and more than 550 generation units. ERCOT also performs financial settlement for the competitive wholesale bulk-power market and administers retail switching for 6.7 million premises in competitive choice areas.”

Discover: Background and History of the US Power grid

Why do we need solar?
“…energy consumption for each of the sectors is projected to increase over the next 25 years. These projections indicate that further strain will be placed on existing natural resources (coal, oil, gas) to supply energy and electricity to the four main sectors. Despite the American need for an “all-you-can-eat energy buffet” at a low price, the existing means by which energy is distributed, generated, supplied and carried (our power grid) is unable to meet future demands.”

Learn:How the power grid works

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