A Michelin Star Dish and A Reliable Power Grid — What Are The Similarities?

The Roadmap to Grid Reliability

Reliability is more than just having enough generation capacity to serve the load. Instead, it is a multifaceted process that involves coordination and collaboration among multiple business units at various time frames.

  • Despite specific lines and generators may not be available due to maintenance, the system must have sufficient transmission capacities to withstand all credible contingencies and show satisfying frequency and voltage profiles.
  • The resources should have enough ramping ability to handle sudden changes in operating conditions driven by solar and wind availability and extreme weather conditions such as heatwaves and wildfires.
  • Software tools and communication paths must be healthy functioning as they are extensions of the system operator’s eyes and hands and will provide the situational awareness critical to supporting the real-time reliability of the power grid.

From A Michelin Star Dish to A Reliable Grid

Top-quality ingredients alone do not make a solid Michelin star dish. Similarly, a good resource and transmission plan itself also doesn’t automatically ensure a reliable grid. Failing any of the requirements above could lead to compromised reliability in real-time, which may limit or interrupt the load-serving capability. From ingredient sourcing to cooking execution, from food preparation to the art of plating, every step is indispensable in delivering the best possible Michelin dish. Likewise, a highly reliable power grid is only plausible with proactive collaboration and coordination among key stakeholders such as resource planning, transmission planning, energy procurement, and operations at all time frames. While playing different roles at different times in the process, all these stakeholders are critical players in achieving world-class reliability.

Conclusions

A reliable power grid in real-time goes a long way! While reliability is materialized only in the operations time frame, it is not an “operation only” concept. World-class reliability originates from a thoughtful resource and transmission plan based on a thorough analysis of the system and realistic expectations of possible energy futures, which, as an analogy, provides the essential ingredients for operations. Once the plan is initiated, the implementation progress must be carefully tracked, and the plan should be regularly reviewed and revised to account for the evolvement of critical inputs, which, if not correctly modeled, could constrain the later operations due to the “path dependence.” When it enters the operations planning stage, reliability comes from strategically scheduled maintenance plans and prudently conducted studies against the forecasted system condition. Eventually, all the hard work and collaboration will pay off in real-time operations. The capable resource portfolio and robust transmission network, together with the well-defined operating and contingency plans, will allow engineers, operators, and energy traders to efficiently utilize the resources and transmission facilities to deliver the promised reliability under various operation conditions.

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Hui Z

Hui Z

Experienced engineer and team leader with 10+ years of experience in the energy domain | Leading the energy transformation and grid innovations