Fuel security and power generation in the United States: Kemp

“The resiliency of the nation’s electric grid is threatened by the premature retirements of power plants that can withstand major fuel supply disruptions caused by natural or man-made disasters,” the U.S. Department of Energy warned last week.

Fuel security is the crux of the argument made by U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry in proposing a new grid resiliency pricing rule to save coal-fired and nuclear power plants from closure.

“Fuel-secure resources are indispensable for the reliability and resiliency of our electric grid,” the Department of Energy wrote in its justification for the proposed rule, which was gazetted in the Federal Register on Oct. 10.

Gas-fired power plants can generate large amounts of electricity and provide crucial reliability services to the grid, including frequency regulation, reactive power and voltage support, operating reserves and black start.

In most respects, gas-fired power plants, including highly efficient combined-cycle units, can provide generation and ancillary services more cheaply and flexibly than their coal-fired and nuclear counterparts.

But unlike coal-fired and nuclear power plants, gas-fired generators do not typically store large amounts of fuel on site, which makes them vulnerable to any disruption of their supply chain.

Gas-fired generators depend on “just-in-time” deliveries of fuel from gas pipelines so anything that restricts the availability of gas could become a problem for electric reliability.

The growing number of gas-fired power plants on the grid has increased the interdependency between the gas and electricity systems.

“Growing reliance on natural gas continues to raise reliability concerns,” the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) wrote in a synopsis of reliability issues prepared for the energy secretary.

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Source: Mail Online