Monday, March 23, 2015

An 'Extension Cord' Remedy for Coal Plant Retirements

Long distance HVDC lines carrying hydroelectricity from Canada's Nelson river to this converter station where it is converted to AC for use in southern Manitoba's grid. (Credit: Weaponofmassinstruction at en.wikipedia. Photo by J. Lindsay:Weaponofmassinstruction 20:39, 23 August 2005 (UTC) - Transferred from en.wikipedia; transferred to Commons by User: J JMesserly using CommonsHelper.) Click to Enlarge.
If all goes as planned, a virtual 1,000-megawatt power plant will "open" for business near Erie, Pa., in 2019.  It would be just in time to help fill the void left by some of the coal-fired plants that are shuttered or scaled back in the PJM Interconnection in response to U.S. EPA's climate and environmental rules.

The power will originate not in Pennsylvania, but in Ontario, Canada, transmitted beneath Lake Erie on a billion-dollar, high-voltage direct-current (HVDC) power line.
DC lines can connect energy-short parts of the grid with new, distant alternative power supplies from carbon-free or low-carbon generation. Most of the power for ITC's project will come from Ontario hydro dams.
High-voltage DC lines remain a rarity in the United States, although they are a growing part of power grid expansion abroad. The technology's unique qualities make it a particularly good strategic solution in expanding low-carbon power sources, as the CPP would require, said Massoud Amin, director of the University of Minnesota's Technical Leadership Institute, who has chaired smart grid panels for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
The alternating-current (AC) technology that predominates on the interstate power grid made perfect sense for the grid's first century, Amin said. "But it is very difficult to command the electrons" to take a particular route, he said, and it is hard, as well, to maintain the precise conditions required to move power over the lines. "You have to keep your hands on the pulse of the system" second by second, he said.

HVDC is more like a switched network or a telephone line, he said, able to ramp delivery of power up and down between specific points on the grid. That makes DC lines suitable for delivering renewable power over long distances, for example. "It can be done. It's pretty straightforward," he said.

HVDC "functions like an extension cord," said Edward Krapels, founder and CEO of Anbaric Transmission, an independent transmission and microgrid developer. Its Neptune Cable and Hudson HVDC projects supply electricity from the Mid-Atlantic region to New York City.

Anbaric and National Grid are partnering to propose one of three HVDC proposals that are expected to compete for an anticipated power supply contract from the New England States Committee on Electricity to supply energy from northern Maine to Massachusetts.

The Anbaric/National Grid proposed Maine Green Line would deliver 1,000 MW of renewable energy -- onshore wind from Maine and hydropower from Canada -- to Massachusetts via submarine cable. The project could expand to 2,000 MW.

Read more at An 'Extension Cord' Remedy for Coal Plant Retirements

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