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WIREs Energy Environ.
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Simplified analysis of balancing challenges in sustainable and smart energy systems with 100% renewable power supply

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In a power system, the basic physical law states that the total production is always exactly the same as total consumption. This physical law is always fulfilled no matter the type of power plants in the power system. In a power system with large shares of solar and wind power, this means that the other power plants have to fill the gap between actual solar plus wind power and the demand during each second/minute/hour. However, if there are large amounts of solar and wind power, then sometimes the available power from solar and wind exceeds the demand. In a future system based on large shares of solar and wind power, all these different situations have to be handled, and the question is how to analyze this. Three different methods concerning how to analyze systems with large shares of solar and wind power will be presented. The methods are applied to a Swedish case with close to 100% renewable power based on hydro, solar, wind and, bio‐fuelled combined heat and power (CHP). This study shows that there are limited balancing costs for this case. The costs for curtailment of surplus as well as to keep enough capacity to cover a high load combined with low solar and low wind is comparatively small, below 0.3 Eurocent/kWh. However, more detailed studies are needed to quantify the exact cost under different conditions, but this study indicates the size of the challenges. WIREs Energy Environ 2016, 5:401–412. doi: 10.1002/wene.194 This article is categorized under: Energy Infrastructure > Systems and Infrastructure Energy Policy and Planning > Systems and Infrastructure Energy and Development > Systems and Infrastructure
Load transition: change of electric load during 2011 during 1 h (a) and 4 h (b). The small black circle in (a) shows the point of an initial load level of 16,400 MW, which decreases with 1800 MW within 1 h. All the other points are calculated in the corresponding way; 95% of all points are within the upper and lower 95% border lines.
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Duration curve for hydro power at high share of wind + solar. Minimum level, 1875 MW, during 860 hours and maximum level, 12,951 MW during 765 hours. Real Swedish hydro power for the years 2008 and 2011 are also shown.
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Transition curves for hydro power in high solar–wind example (a) and during 2008 (b).
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Duration curve of extra need.
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Resulting power supply in the example during a week with low wind and solar.
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Duration curve of solar and wind power spillage.
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Resulting power supply in the example during a week with high wind and solar. The black ‘Hydro power’ curve is above the ‘Consumption’ curve as the demand is covered during each hour.
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First approach to power supply in the example during a week with high wind and solar. The figure shows the sum, so ‘Solar power’ is the difference between the blue (solar) and red (CHP). This means that the black ‘Hydro power’ curve is above the ‘Consumption’ curve as the demand is covered during each hour.
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Swedish hydro power transitions within 4 h for 2008 (a) and 2011 (b).
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Swedish hydro power transitions from hour to hour for 2008 (a) and 2011 (b).
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Net load transition: change of electric consumption during 2011 during 1 h (a) and 4 h (b). Maximum wind power is 15,633 MW, and maximum solar is 9148 MW.
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