Distributed Resources Shift Paradigms on Power System Design, Planning, and Operation: An Application of the GAP Model
Proceedings of the IEEE
| Power systems have evolved following a century-old paradigm of planning and operating a grid based on large central generation plants connected to load centers through a transmission grid and distribution lines with radial flows. This paradigm is being challenged by the development and diffusion of modular generation and storage technologies. We use a novel approach to assess the sequencing and pacing of centralized, distributed, and off-grid electrification strategies by developing and
... ing the grid and access planning (GAP) model. GAP is a capacity expansion model to jointly assess operation and investment in utility-scale generation, transmission, distribution, and demand-side resources. This paper conceptually studies the investment and operation decisions for a power system with and without distributed resources. Contrary to the current practice, we find hybrid systems that pair grid connections with distributed energy resources (DERs) are the preferred mode of electricity supply for greenfield expansion under conservative reductions in Manuscript photovoltaic panel (PV) and energy storage prices. We also find that when distributed PV and storage are employed in power system expansion, there are savings of 15%-20% mostly in capital deferment and reduced diesel use. Results show that enhanced financing mechanisms for DER PV and storage could enable 50%-60% of additional deployment and save 15 $/MWh in system costs. These results have important implications to reform current utility business models in developed power systems and to guide the development of electrification strategies in underdeveloped grids.