Pandemic Implications on Power Systems

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By Manuel Avendaño and Vishal Patel

The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic presents Southern California Edison (SCE) and other electric utilities with the challenge of providing safe and reliable electric service to support society’s needs, while addressing the potential for  widespread impact to its essential workforce as a result of the pandemic. This article provides an overview of key steps that SCE has taken to respond to COVID-19, in order to ensure continued, safe and reliable service to its customers, while protecting its employees and the public in the process. SCE is one of the largest electric utilities in the United States serving 15 million residents, spread over 129,500 square kilometers across Central, Coastal, and Southern California.

By Sahand Ghaseminejad Liasi, Abbas Shahbazian, Mohammad Tavakoli Bina

Unlike the pandemics of past centuries that caused deaths of millions of people, the COVID-19 pandemic has severely influenced different aspects of human activities. Power systems are nationally considered critical infrastructures in terms of both economical and security concerns. This paper discusses the impacts of COVID-19 on the technical and financial aspects of power systems. Furthermore, possible challenges and opportunities caused by the pandemic are discussed.
Keywords— Pandemic, COVID-19, energy consumption, carbon emission, peak demand.

By Asma Aziz, Aman Than OO

Worldwide electricity markets work diligently to maintain balance between generation and demand in real time. Energy markets daily operations are based on the current and forecasted demand of electricity and distribution of this demand amongst the pool of scheduled and nonscheduled electricity generators. Generally, electricity is consumed by three major sectors, namely industrial, residential, and services. The real time electricity demand profile is constructed from the residential, commercial, and industrial needs throughout the day. The energy market coordinates the dispatch of generators and their payment on the basis of supply-demand conditions. Generator bids are influenced by a number of factors such as fuel costs, minimum and maximum demand, contract volumes and the capital costs. Generators bid the price at which they are willing to supply a certain volume of electricity and that will be dispatched on the basis of lowest price.

By Michael Lewis, Robert Hebner

The COVID-19 pandemic highlights another critical link between healthcare and electricity.  The preponderance of ventilators is electric, and ventilators are the key tool to reduce the likelihood of death from COVID-19.  So, electric power is not just important for the overall functioning of the facility, it is critical for direct patient care.

By Tao Ding, Quan Zhou, Mohammad Shahidehpour

The world has witnessed an ever-increasing deployment of solar PV generation, which is largely in response to mandates for energy independence and the environmental concerns resulting from the excessive consumption of the conventional fossil energy. However, the variability and the daily cycles in solar PV generation have introduced operational challenges to thermal power systems. Figure 1 illustrates the evolution of duck curve in the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) from 2014 to 2019. The duck curve will have a lower belly and longer neck as the penetration of solar PV generation continues to increase. The hourly duck curve variations are balanced by flexible generation resources, which place considerable ramping requirements on dispatchable thermal plants.

By Massoud Amin

In 1990, the U.S. Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) issued a detailed report, Physical Vulnerability of the Electric System to Natural Disasters and Sabotage.  It concluded that terrorists could “destroy critical [power system] components, incapacitating large segments of a transmission network for months. Some of these components are vulnerable to saboteurs with explosives or just high-powered rifles.”


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