Large balancing areas and dispersed renewable investment enhance grid flexibility in a renewable-dominant power system in China
Renewable energy is poised to play a major role in achieving China's carbon neutrality goal by 2060; however, reliability and flexibility is a big concern of a renewable-dominant power system. Various strategies of enhancing flexibility are under discussion to ensure the reliability of such a system, but no detailed quantitative analysis has been reported yet in China. We combine the advantages of a capacity expansion model, SWITCH-China, with a production simulation model, PLEXOS, and analyze flexibility options under different scenarios of a renewable-dominant power system in China. We find that a larger balancing area offers direct flexibility benefits. Regional balancing could reduce the renewable curtailment rate by 5–7%, compared with a provincial balancing strategy. National balancing could further reduce the power cost by about 16%. However, retrofitting coal power plants for flexible operation would only improve the system flexibility marginally.