Decarbonization Analysis for Thermal Generation and Regionally Integrated Large-Scale Renewables Based on Minutely Optimal Dispatch with a Kentucky Case Study

Donovin D. Lewis, Aron Patrick, Evan S. Jones, Rosemary E. Alden, Abdullah Al Hadi, Malcolm D. McCulloch, Dan M. Ionel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Decarbonization of existing electricity generation portfolios with large-scale renewable resources, such as wind and solar photo-voltaic (PV) facilities, is important for a transition to a sustainable energy future. This paper proposes an ultra-fast optimization method for economic dispatch of firm thermal generation using high granularity, one minute resolution load, wind, and solar PV data to more accurately capture the effects of variable renewable energy (VRE). Load-generation imbalance and operational cost are minimized in a multi-objective clustered economic dispatch problem with various generation portfolios, realistic generator flexibility, and increasing levels of VRE integration. The economic feasibility of thermal dispatch scenarios is evaluated through a proposed method of levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for clustered generation portfolios. Effective renewable economics is applied to assess resource adequacy, annual carbon emissions, renewable capacity factor, over generation, and cost to build between thermal dispatch scenarios with incremental increases in VRE penetration. Solar PV and wind generation temporally complement one another in the region studied, and the combination of the two is beneficial to renewable energy integration. Furthermore, replacing older coal units with cleaner and agile natural gas units increases renewable hosting capacity and provides further pathways to decarbonization. Minute-based chronological simulations enable the assessment of renewable effectiveness related to weather-related variability and of complementary technologies, including energy storage for which a sizing procedure is proposed. The generally applicable methods are regionally exemplified for Kentucky, USA, including eight scenarios with four major year-long simulated case studies and 176 subcases using high performance computing (HPC) systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1999
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.


  • decarbonization
  • electric power system adequacy
  • generation portfolio
  • optimal economic dispatch
  • renewable energy
  • solar PV
  • thermal generation
  • wind energy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Optimization
  • Energy (miscellaneous)
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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