According to him, to facilitate the development of the fuel-and-energy complex and to improve the affordability of energy, the focus should be on optimisation and high quality level of organisation of the national energy system.
“Speaking of short-term solutions, we need to understand; if we continue our planning activities the way they were 20 years ago, when energy balances were developed based on energy generation and supply costs together with all the other costs, we will get an incorrect impression of the situation in the electricity market including the performance of the resumable energy sources (RES), which today are sometimes called “unstable energy”, he said.
For example, previously, the balance calculation assumed that RES share in the total generation will not exceed 10%. Today it achieved 70%.
On top of that, the following needs to be taken into account: Uruguay has many hybrid power plants based both on RES and diesel generators. The average cost of one megawatt at such plants is USD 150 – 200, which is above the market.
“We need to account for the following when planning energy distribution: a) how the system will be effectively managed, and b) how do we need to manage it in the short-term perspective. The forecasts play a very important role in this respect”, the expert highlighted.
“Currently, we use a robot every day to develop the forecast for the nearest 3 months with account of the daily metrics: precipitation, wind, sun, consumption. Thus, we can foresee the water level in reservoirs and the required amount of imported fuel, not to forget that it takes 45 days for a diesel fuel carrier to get to our country”, the expert explained.
In earlier times, in order to launch a motor at the co-generation plant, we had to call the dispatcher over the phone, give him the instructions to launch the boiler, etc. Today, having got the forecast for one week ahead, we can plan the combined cycle generation schemes three days before. All these modern capabilities allow for avoiding mistakes in operating the system”, he added.
However, such kind of planning is not enough nowadays. “The amounts of resources in the region are of strategic importance. That is why it is key for us to know what our neighbours are doing, especially Argentina and Brazil. We understand perfectly well that Uruguay’s efforts cannot impact our neighbours. Energy generation in Brazil exceeds our generation 60 times, in Argentina – 12 times. The consequences of the efforts by the major neighbours are different for minor countries vs. the big countries. The economic implications also will be completely different, and all this we need to take into account when we do our planning”, the scientist said.