In the current IEEE Power & Energy Magazine, (“Flexibility and Availability,” November/December 2014, p. 104), I discuss the future need for increased use of flexible thermal resources to help balance renewable production.
Natural gas-fired generation has a special role because of its inherent flexibility and its relatively low emissions. Natural gas markets have provided for coping with the variable needs for gas consumption that can be predicted on a day-ahead basis. With increasing renewables, however, there is increased uncertainty into the operating day and there will be a correspondingly greater need to adjust natural gas consumption with less warning.
Natural gas and electricity markets will become more tightly coupled, and various incompatibilities between these markets will need to be resolved. Perhaps the biggest difference in the markets is that electricity trading is a 24/7 activity, whereas gas trading has traditionally taken place during “banker’s hours.” Increasing needs for flexible trading will necessitate a liquid seven-day-a-week gas trading marketplace.