The role of frequency regulation remuneration schemes in an energy matrix with high penetration of renewable energy

Claudio A. Agostini, Franco A. Armijo, Carlos Silva, Shahriyar Nasirov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Renewable energies (RE) in Chile and around the world have experienced outstanding growth in recent years. However, RE technologies such as solar photovoltaic and wind generate an imbalance between generation (offer) and consumption (demand) because of their intermittent and variable nature. Moreover, RE's natural variability makes it necessary for conventional technologies to play a significant role in adjusting for the imbalance in the electric system frequency. As variable RE penetration grows, the need for frequency regulation will increase and, depending on how those higher costs are financed, this could lead to a disincentive to invest in conventional plants that provide that service. In this paper we study the impact of increased photovoltaic energy penetration, the leading RE in Chile, on the profitability of different conventional generation technologies. Specifically, we analyze the role that the frequency control remuneration mechanism has on that impact. For this purpose, four different solar photovoltaic penetration scenarios are simulated in Chile's Northern System, comparing two payment criteria for frequency regulation services: i) a cost-based pricing system whose payments relate to the incurred costs and ii) a market-based pricing system where the marginal cost of providing the services is paid. The results show that as installed photovoltaic capacity increases, the average marginal cost of energy (operation cost) decreases due to a displacement of more expensive power plants, but at the same time, investment cost may increase. In the long run, contract prices change as a result of falling operational costs and rising investment cost, resulting in changes in the profitability of all technologies. Finally, while both cost-based and market-based systems reward the ability to regulate frequency, the technologies performing the regulation receive different payments for the service, affecting both their profitability and the incentives for investment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1097-1114
Number of pages18
JournalRenewable Energy
StatePublished - Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Ancillary services
  • Chile
  • Frequency control
  • Renewable energy


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