Unlocking Grid Potential Around the World With the Global Power System Transformation Consortium

NREL Senior Researcher Amy Rose Leads a Team Implementing Power System Operation Advancements Worldwide

March 13, 2023 | By Amy Rose | Contact media relations

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This installment of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL's) Tell Me Something Grid series features Amy Rose, a member of NREL's Grid Planning and Analysis Center (GPAC) and lead of system operator technical support for the Global Power System Transformation (G-PST) Consortium. Rose discusses how G-PST is supporting power system operators around the world to achieve reliable, low-carbon grids.

Just as a rising tide lifts all ships, a global and inclusive response to climate change supports system operators worldwide with the technical solutions needed to operate decarbonized grids.

At NREL, we are contributing to a global approach to climate change through the G-PST Consortium, an initiative founded by the chief executives of six of the world's most advanced system operators, as well as 12 leading research institutions, to accelerate power systems transitions all over the globe. The core objective of G-PST is to help system operators around the world integrate high levels of variable renewable energy. To achieve this objective, we collaborate directly with system operators in developing countries by providing solutions on the challenges associated with the scale-up of renewable energy, such as best-in-class tools and analysis that can be integrated into their processes.

As lead of G-PST's system operator technical support, I guide our overall strategy across different countries, help build project teams, make sure we have the resources to do impactful work, and connect our work in each country with other G-PST activities.

We are currently partnering with system operators in Colombia, Peru, Indonesia, India, South Africa, Vietnam, and Ukraine. Our work ranges widely across each of the countries, reflecting the unique questions system operators are facing as they navigate the transition to low-carbon grids.

Operating a reliable, decarbonized grid is not just a question about one specific technology, but about how all the pieces need to come together. Most historical power systems have been built around a conventional generation fleet, with processes tailored to the characteristics of that fleet. As nonsynchronous generation sources like wind and solar increase, we are reexamining those processes—including the timescales in which operational decisions are made, the impact of changing the size of generation facilities and distribution of where they are built, and the need for new or different system services for reserve products, flexibility, contingencies, and so on.

Many of these changes must be implemented by the control room workforce who are figuring out how to adapt to emerging operating conditions and new control room considerations. This is where G-PST's technical support comes in.

A Focus on Actionable Solutions

Our team is focused on implementing advanced solutions that are developed for system operators by system operators. An excellent example of this is our collaboration with India's nationwide system operator Grid India to implement an oscillation source location software (OSLp) tool—an effort led by my colleague and fellow GPAC researcher Mohit Joshi.

Power system oscillations, or fluctuations in system frequency, can have many causes and could result in outages or forced shut down of generators if these fluctuations are sustained. To detect abnormal oscillation patterns, Grid India would make phone calls to regional generators—in some cases, up to 200 generators. Because operators at generation plants could only see their own data, Grid India had to patch together individual reports to fully understand what was going on. The manual process was time consuming and threatened grid security.

We knew a better solution existed for Grid India. The OSLp tool is based on a newer method of locating the source of oscillation that was first implemented by the Independent System Operator of New England (ISO-NE). Over the last year, we worked with Grid India engineers to explain the new method and help implement the tool. We also brought together ISO-NE and Grid India to share lessons learned using the tool. As a result of the yearlong effort, Grid India is now using the OSLp tool and can quickly identify sources of oscillations, often within 2 to 5 minutes—replacing the time-consuming manual process and increasing grid security.

While G-PST presented the methods and baseline tool tutorials, Grid India owned testing and implementation. They even enhanced the tool by rewriting it into a software language they were comfortable with and added new features so it could be visualized in real time in their control room. This type of active participation has been true of many partner system operators in G-PST. Countries are eager to develop and implement advanced solutions for their power systems, which makes the work fun and rewarding.

Connecting the System Operator Community

Our work with Grid India reinforces one of G-PST's main goals: creating long-term relationships and connections between system operators. By working with G-PST, our partners get access not only to best-in-class tools and systems in their control rooms but also to industry leaders. We facilitate and organize many forums for knowledge sharing—from the practitioner level up to the executive level.

We hope, for example, when the system operator in one country discovers an issue, they can turn directly to their G-PST counterparts in other countries (or vice versa) to understand how they have overcome similar challenges. These industry bonds grow the confidence of system operator staff so we can all pursue reliable, low-carbon grids with bold ambition. Again, like a rising tide that lifts all ships, G-PST benefits all system operators and advances our global response to climate change.

There are so many interesting questions, contexts, policies, and behaviors to consider when it comes to how our grid will operate in the future. G-PST's action-oriented structure and network of expertise is answering diverse questions to help system operators not just respond to changes in the energy transition but lead the way forward. Learn more about the Global Power System Transformation Consortium.

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Tags: Energy Analysis,International