Regardless of the specific reason they're needed, ancillary services are set for demand growth as the proportion of renewables steadily increases almost everywhere. In the UK, for example, The Telegraph reports that National Grid's costs for managing electricity supplies have skyrocketed in recent years due to renewable-balancing demands. Governments, regulators, system operators, and generators are building new models to meet this growing need.
Grid operators everywhere require flexible generation that can respond to fluctuating grid requirements. Gas turbines, reciprocating engines, and pumped-hydro storage are well suited for this task. But, with response times sometimes measured in milliseconds, modern power electronics and associated systems have a growing role to play. Sometimes, these digital solutions can enable less flexible, existing generators to deliver the needs of the new order.
Even renewable energy producers have an opportunity to capitalize on ancillary services. The advent of storage is allowing Danish company Orsted to build a 2-MWh storage facility connection with its 90-MW Burbo Bank offshore wind farm. The additional storage capabilities will allow Orsted to offer frequency-response services.
For the owners and operators of gas-powered generation facilities, understanding the full capability of the asset is the first step to realizing its full value in the context of these new demands and services. Then, capitalizing on ancillary services may take several forms. Additional site capacity may prompt the development of storage resources, for example. Configuring a gas turbine for high efficiency and low maintenance during particular load cycles may yield favorable returns. Bottom line: New and in-demand functions and emerging revenue streams are available for power generation asset owners who can offer the flexibility and responsiveness that the power systems of today—and tomorrow—need.