On January 18, 2018, the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) launched a public assessment of dispatchable renewables and storage. According to the direction letter, the Government of Alberta (Province) seeks to understand the role dispatchable renewable development can play in achieving Alberta’s legislated 30 by 30 target of 30 percent renewable generation by 2030 (30 by 30 Target). This announcement comes in the wake of the announcement of the Round 1 REP results, a summary of which can be found in a previous post.

On-demand or dispatchable renewable can provide a valuable service to Alberta’s interconnected electricity system (AIES) and its reliability. Such value is increasingly important given the significant intermittent generation being brought onto the AIES through initiatives such as the AESO’s Renewable Electricity Program (REP).

What’s being done?

The Province directed the AESO to undertake additional analysis and stakeholder engagement (including engaging technical advisors) to review the electricity system requirements and to determine:

  1. the need for on-demand renewables; and
  2. the best means to secure these system benefits through a competitive process.

This analysis and assessment will be coordinated with the AESO’s ongoing capacity market design work and any future REP competitions.

AESO’s Mandate

The AESO recommendation paper will provide its recommendations detailing:

  • whether any additional products or services are required;
  • if so, whether they may be procured under existing market mechanisms or whether discrete competitions will be required;
  • if discrete competitions are required, a proposal to the structure and timeline of such competitions; and
  • a definition for dispatchable renewables.

If the AESO determines that there is a need for discrete competitions, the Province also requested recommendations on competition design (be it through REP or otherwise).

The AESO’s review will include all renewable generation typically associated with the ability to be dispatched when required, namely, hydroelectricity, biomass and geothermal. The review will also include the role electricity storage can play to enhance the availability of these dispatchable sources, as well as that of firm wind and solar sources.

Desired Outcomes

As part of its mandate, if the AESO’s review reveals a need for additional products or services, the Province requested that the AESO’s recommendations:

  • contribute toward meeting the Province’s legislated 30 by 30 Target;
  • maintain or improve the future reliability of Alberta’s electricity grid;
  • ensure minimal market impacts outside of the desired outcomes; and
  • meet Alberta’s electricity system needs in a cost-effective manner (inclusive of indirect costs such as transmission requirements).

Timelines

The AESO’s recommendation must be completed by August 2018 and any subsequent competitions need to be launched by no later than November 2018, pending ministerial approval.

Stakeholder Engagement & Next Steps

Stakeholders are invited to provide views on dispatchable renewables and electricity storage in Alberta. Comments must be provided by February 14, 2018 in the form of questionnaire which can be found here. If stakeholders have documentation beneficial to the AESO’s assessment, it can be emailed to dispatchablerenewables@aeso.ca.

The AESO intends to provide a summary of the feedback in a manner that will not include any data that could identify an individual or organization.

Future targeted stakeholder engagement is also anticipated to help inform the AESO’s recommendations to the Province.