The world of energy is in a state of constant flux, changing and evolving along with technological advancements and the growing urgency to transition towards renewable sources. Not to mention, the constraints on available land positions make site control an even greater challenge for renewable energy developers. In this dynamic environment, Available Transfer Capacity (ATC) data has emerged as one of the most important factors in the energy workflow, particularly in identifying potential areas for utility scale renewable energy projects and streamlining injection studies with upgrade cost analysis.
To go even more in-depth, join our LIVE webinar on this topic on March 28, 2024.
Understanding Available Transfer Capacity (ATC) Data
Available Transfer Capacity (ATC) refers to the measure of the additional amount of electrical power that can be transferred over the transmission network in a reliable manner while meeting all of a system's safety requirements. This data is critical in the energy sector as it helps operators understand how much more power can be added to the grid without causing instability or reliability issues. Utility scale development projects cannot proceed unless there is existing capacity on the grid or be forced to upgrade portions of the grid so that their projects can move forward.
How Renewable Energy Developers can Utilize ATC Data
Renewable energy developers can utilize Available Transfer Capacity (ATC) data in a variety of ways to optimize their projects. Here are some specific examples:
ATC Data for Site Selection:
One of the first steps in any renewable energy project is selecting the right site. ATC data can be instrumental in this phase by helping developers identify areas of the grid with sufficient capacity to handle the additional power generated by their project. For instance, if a developer is considering several potential sites for a new wind farm, they could use ATC data to quickly rule out any areas where the grid is already operating at or near capacity.
ATC Data for Cost Estimation:
When planning a renewable energy project, it's essential to have an accurate estimate of costs. ATC data can help here too. By understanding the available transfer capacity of a given area, developers can get a sense of whether expensive grid upgrades will be needed to accommodate their project or determine where those upgrade costs occur. If the ATC is low, it may indicate that substantial infrastructure investments will be required, which can significantly impact the project's financial feasibility.
ATC data for Project Scheduling:
ATC data can also inform project timelines. If a project requires grid upgrades due to low ATC, these upgrades need to be factored into the project schedule. Knowing this information upfront helps avoid unexpected delays later on. Queue positions are also critical as ATC may be available currently, but depending on the project timeline and other projects coming onto the grid, the project may not be viable at the projected COD (commercial operation date).
ATC Data for Risk Mitigation:
Understanding the ATC of a potential project site can help developers anticipate and mitigate risks. For example, if the ATC is borderline sufficient for a proposed solar power plant, developers might opt to phase their project, gradually adding capacity over time rather than all at once. This phased approach can help manage the risk of overloading the grid.
ATC Data for Investor Communications:
Finally, ATC data can be valuable for communicating with potential investors. Developers can use ATC data to demonstrate that they've done their due diligence and that the proposed project site has the necessary infrastructure capacity. This can help build investor confidence and potentially make it easier to secure funding.
ATC data is a powerful tool for renewable energy developers or anyone looking at grid constraints. It can guide site selection, inform cost estimates, aid in project scheduling, assist with risk mitigation, and facilitate investor communications. By leveraging this data, developers and energy professionals can make more informed decisions and ultimately design more successful and sustainable energy projects.
Identifying Renewable Energy Project Areas
One of the primary applications of ATC data is in identifying potential areas for renewable energy projects. When planning for a new renewable project, such as a wind farm or solar power plant, it's crucial to know the capacity of the existing grid in the targeted area. This is where ATC data comes into play.
By analyzing ATC data, developers can identify regions with sufficient transfer capacity to accommodate the additional load from their proposed renewable energy project. This not only ensures that the project is technically feasible but also helps avoid costly and time-consuming grid upgrades down the line.
Streamlining Injection Studies with Upgrade Cost Analysis
ATC data also plays a pivotal role in optimizing the development process and streamlining injection studies with upgrade cost analysis. An injection study is an assessment carried out to determine the impact of adding a new power source to the grid.
Traditionally, these studies have been quite complex and time-consuming, often resulting in delays in project timelines. However, with ATC data, energy companies can now conduct these studies more efficiently.
By incorporating ATC data into their injection studies, they can estimate the impact of their proposed project on the grid's transfer capacity. This, in turn, allows them to identify any necessary upgrades and estimate the associated costs upfront, thereby reducing uncertainties and potential delays in the project timeline.
How to Access ATC Data
Renewable energy developers have traditionally relied on disjointed data from ISOs and then must pair that data with public information and hire expensive in-house transmission engineers to determine the Available Transfer Capacity (ATC). Notably however, LandGate recently released ATC data on its platform with access for subscribed energy developers.
Other Grid Related Datasets
Renewable Energy Potential Model (reV):
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL) reV model helps developers understand land access limitations for renewable energy projects. While it does not provide ATC data, its analysis can inform developers about the capacity of potential project sites.
Renewable Energy Zones (REZ):
Planning approaches such as the development of Renewable Energy Zones can enable access to renewable energy in cost-effective locations, which likely have potential capacity.
Webinars and Online Platforms:
Companies such as LandGate offer webinars and online platforms that help users understand the impact of introducing new power to the grid. These resources may also provide insights into grid data.
Solar and Wind Energy Resource Assessment (SWERA):
SWERA provides free access to renewable energy data and technical assistance for developers, policymakers, and decision-makers. This can be a valuable resource for obtaining grid-related information.
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) provides access to comprehensive and up-to-date renewable energy data. This data set may include grid data or related information.
While a number of public data sources can help inform a holistic view of the grid, LandGate’s ATC solution pulls all of the relevant data together so that developers can make informed decisions on their greenfield development efforts.
The Future of ATC Data for Developers
ATC data has a transformative potential in energy workflows, particularly in the renewable energy sector. By leveraging this data, operators can identify promising project areas, optimize the development process, and streamline injection studies with upgrade cost analysis. This not only makes the planning and execution of renewable projects more efficient but also contributes towards a more reliable and resilient energy system.
As we continue to push towards a sustainable future, tools like ATC data will be invaluable in helping us navigate the complexities of the energy landscape, making it easier for us to harness the power of renewable energy sources and move towards a greener and more sustainable world.
To go even more in-depth, join our LIVE webinar on this topic on March 28, 2024.