Analysis of curtailment at The Geysers geothermal Field, California
Geothermal energy has traditionally been viewed as a baseload energy source, but the rapid growth of intermittent renewable energy has led to a need for more flexibility in power generation to avoid mandatory curtailment imposed by grid operators. This study of curtailment at The Geysers provides insights into the magnitude, duration, frequency, temporal and spatial distribution, and potential causes of curtailment events between 2013 and 2018. Annual levels of curtailment range during this period from 9 to 47 GW h, representing 0.15 to 0.81 % of the net generation. Most curtailments occurred at the power plants connected to a lower capacity transmission line and may result from transmission constriction. There is a clear link between negative pricing and economic curtailment, especially when solar production is higher. Economic curtailment events tend to be only a few hours and vary in magnitude up to almost 300 MW, whereas transmission-related curtailment events can be up to several weeks in duration. It is likely that curtailment of geothermal power will be an increasing concern, and could be mitigated by flexible generation strategies and increases in energy storage. It is critical to know the nature of curtailment events so that flexible generation options can be assessed properly.