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NETL Publishes New Baseline Study Report on the Flexibility Attributes of Commercial Natural Gas Power Generation Technologies
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To address the data needs of energy system designers and to serve as a baseline for research and development, NETL has carried out a study to characterize the flexibility attributes - both performance and cost - of nine common commercial natural gas-fueled electricity generating units.

The intermittent output of low-carbon, renewable power generation sources such as wind and solar create challenges to grid stability and reliability. Fossil-fueled power generation technologies are currently used to provide reliable, on-demand power during periods of reduced renewable output. Dispatchable generators must be able to accommodate increasing renewable generation as the nation pursues the Administration’s target of a decarbonized energy sector by 2035.

As energy system experts seek to identify least-cost approaches to decarbonization, accurate cost and performance data characterizing dispatchable fossil generators that operate flexibly, at capacity factors that have been declining over time, and are needed to inform models for capacity expansion. Furthermore, these technologies continue to be a significant source of carbon dioxide emissions, providing the impetus for research and development, including the advancement and potential incorporation of carbon capture technologies.

According to NETL’s Marc Turner, a co-author of the study, “Although existing coal-fired power plants have been increasingly relied upon as load-following resources, current natural gas technologies are much better equipped to follow intermittent renewable generation with faster ramping rates, shorter startup durations, higher efficiency, lower minimum loads, lower water usage, lower costs, and lower emissions. NETL believes this study will provide valuable data as the nation pursues decarbonization goals.”

The report, titled “Cost and Performance Baseline for Fossil Energy Plants, Volume 5: Natural Gas Electricity Generating Units for Flexible Operation” can be found here.

NETL is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory that drives innovation and delivers technological solutions for an environmentally sustainable and prosperous energy future. By using its world-class talent and research facilities, NETL is ensuring affordable, abundant, and reliable energy that drives a robust economy and national security, while developing technologies to manage carbon across the full life cycle, enabling environmental sustainability for all Americans.