Toward Fully Renewable Power Systems in Regions with High Solar Irradiation: Long-Term Planning and Operations

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The abundance of solar resources in Saudi Arabia motivates analyzing the possibility of supplying the Saudi electric power demand using solely renewable resources and storage. This is the main objective of this research work. First, a generation and transmission expansion planning model is developed and tailored to the power system of Saudi Arabia, targeting the year 2040. We consider utility-scale generation technologies including wind power plants, solar power plants, storage facilities, and also exible combined cycle gas turbines. We represent long- term uncertainty in terms of demand growth via scenarios, and short-term uncertainty to characterize daily solar, wind, and demand patterns via typical days. We analyze a number of case studies with increasing renewable integration targets to characterize the Saudi Arabian power system in 2040. Health, environment, and security analyses are out of the scope of this research. We conclude that it is important to actively promote the integration of renewable power in the Saudi Arabia power sector if a high renewable integration is desired. Second, a stochastic all-solar operation model is developed. The aim of this model is to operate the Saudi electric power system considering only solar power units and storage facilities. We use the long-term planning model above to generate an all- solar power system and focus on the operation problem from the perspective of the operator, considering an operation horizon of one year. We use a number of year-longcases to characterize the operation of an all-solar power system in Saudi Arabia. We conclude that an only PV generation mix requires higher storage capacity and higher installed generation capacity than both an only CSP generation mix and a hybrid PV-CSP generation mix. Third, a model to coordinate the supply of electricity and the production and transport of fresh water is developed. The time span of the model is one year and is relevant to countries like Saudi Arabia with high solar irradiation throughout the year and a need to produce fresh water. The model is used to study the operation of an all-solar power system in Saudi Arabia, which supplies the conventional electric demand and the electric demand for producing and transporting fresh water. In conclusion, coordinating the supply of electricity and the production and transport of fresh water in an all-solar power system in Saudi Arabia is important because more than half of the originally spilled solar energy can be efficiently used. The document concludes describing what has been learned throughout the thesis and providing suggestions for future work.