Distributed energy generation systems based on renewable energy and natural gas blending: new business models for economic incentives, electricity market design and regulatory innovation

Nyangon, Joseph
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University of Delaware
Expansion of distributed energy resources (DERs) including solar photovoltaics, small- and medium-sized wind farms, gas-fired distributed generation, demand-side management, and energy storage poses significant complications to the design, operation, business model, and regulation of electricity systems. Using statistical regression analysis, this dissertation assesses if increased use of natural gas results in reduced renewable energy capacity, and if natural gas growth is correlated with increased or decreased non-fossil renewable fuels demand. System Generalized Method of Moments (System GMM) estimation of the dynamic relationship was performed on the indicators in the econometric model for the ten states with the fastest growth in solar generation capacity in the U.S. (e.g., California, North Carolina, Arizona, Nevada, New Jersey, Utah, Massachusetts, Georgia, Texas, and New York) to analyze the effect of natural gas on renewable energy diffusion and the ratio of fossil fuels increase for the period 2001-2016 to policy driven solar demand. The study identified ten major drivers of change in electricity systems, including growth in distributed energy generation systems such as intermittent renewable electricity and gas-fired distributed generation; flat to declining electricity demand growth; aging electricity infrastructure and investment gaps; proliferation of affordable information and communications technologies (e.g., advanced meters or interval meters), increasing innovations in data and system optimization; and greater customer engagement. In this ongoing electric power sector transformation, natural gas and fast-flexing renewable resources (mostly solar and wind energy) complement each other in several sectors of the economy. ☐ The dissertation concludes that natural gas has a positive impact on solar and wind energy development: a 1% rise in natural gas capacity produces 0.0304% increase in the share of renewable energy in the short-run (monthly) compared to the long-term effect estimated at 0.9696% (15-year period). Evidence from the main policy, environmental, and economic indicators for solar and wind-power development such as feed-in tariffs, state renewable portfolio standards, public benefits fund, net metering, interconnection standards, environmental quality, electricity import ratio, per-capita energy-related carbon dioxide emissions, average electricity price, per-capita real gross domestic product, and energy intensity are discussed and evaluated in detail in order to elucidate their effectiveness in supporting the utility industry transformation. The discussion is followed by a consideration of a plausible distributed utility framework that is tailored for major DERs development that has emerged in New York called Reforming the Energy Vision. This framework provides a conceptual base with which to imagine the utility of the future as well as a practical solution to study the potential of DERs in other states. The dissertation finds this grid and market modernization initiative has considerable influence and importance beyond New York in the development of a new market economy in which customer choice and distributed utilities are prominent.
Applied sciences , Social sciences , Distributed energy generation systems , Electricity market design , New utility business models , Regulatory innovation , Renewable electricity integration , Renewable energy and natural gas blending