Analyzing Hosting Capacity To Optimize Interconnection of the Power Grid

It is of increasing importance that utility providers analyze the power grid’s transmission hosting capacity, as large industrial loads and green energy generation sources are more frequently being connected to the grid. Our client, a regional utility provider, sought our expertise in the energy and utility industry to develop a dynamic Hosting Capacity Analysis (HCA) tool that visually models their transmission service area’s capacity, county by county, as the capacity and infrastructure develops.

This tool will inform decision making for large-volume energy consumers (aka direct energy transmission customers) and green energy developers, as they make their respective impacts on the grid.

Large Industrial Loads, Solar, and Wind Farms

From time to time, large companies will work alongside regulatory bodies and utilities to determine the best location to place a large industrial load.

There are a lot of determining factors at play, which a robust, custom Hosting Capacity Analysis software could answer.

Large industrial loads, such as a battery factory, consume an enormous amount of energy. Understanding the current demands placed on the grid’s existing infrastructure (largely reflected by population density) helps determine where the energy can come from to support these large consumers. Sometimes network upgrade costs (from the construction of a new substation or transmission line) are necessary to transmit power generated in a different region.

This sometimes necessitates securing the right of way to put those towers and lines in place. In densely populated areas, where large industrial operations might seek employees, there are more property owners to negotiate with.

Given the incredible amount of challenges and coordination this requires, identifying alternative locations could be the easiest route, and this is where hosting capacity comes into play.

In addition to knowing where a particular load might fit in the grid, hosting capacity is traditionally used to find spots in the grid where utility-scale solar and wind farms can be added.

As the push for additional green energy generation continues, solar and wind developers face a challenge determining where to build their wind and solar farms. The place where this new power is generated is rarely near the place where it will be used.

Modeling the Future

Understanding how power can get to other places by analyzing the current load, future load, and future topology of the grid is important.

Previously, our client’s team of powerflow engineers were the only ones capable of answering these questions. Simple Thread’s team of powerflow engineers and software engineers worked together to create a tool that would be accessible to anyone who needed this analysis.

Our client can now input all the variables into a given scenario, and the HCA software will output a report breaking down how that scenario would impact capacity. The tool identifies transmission bottlenecks by running contingency analysis under various conditions, giving them the ability to determine where the grid has existing capacity to host new load or generation.

“I’m astounded with Simple Thread’s knack for engaging in deep technical discussions and their ability to understand the impact their work has on our organization.”

– Team Member, Electric Transmission, A Major Utility Company

The Result