CHENet al.: POWER SYSTEM CAPACITY EXPANSION UNDER HIGHER PENETRATION OF RENEWABLES CONSIDERING FLEXIBILITY6241operation is also lacking in previous “pathway” or “roadmap”studies for long term development of renewables in China ,resulting over optimistic scenarios for wind and solar invest-ments. An important advance for the long-term, low-carbonpower system planning of China, named as SWITCH-China, ispresented in .With increasing penetration of variable renewables, short-term variability should no longer be ignored in long-termcapacity expansion models . The need to balance thisvariability may strongly affect the composition and operation offuture power systems, which will consequently influence oper-ational costs, the optimal generation portfolio and compliancewith environmental regulations . The full set of flexibilityconstraints was introduced first in a planning model by iterationbetweenconventionalcapacityexpansionmodelandthedetailed Unit Commitment (UC) model , indicating thatignoring flexibility constraints could result in a 24% deviationfor installed capacities for different type of units in Irishpower systems . Reference  employed unit-groupingtechnique to simplify the mixed integer formulation of the UCmodel, pointing out importantly that lacking of considerationfor flexibility constraints could result in failure in meetingthe environmental regulations in ERCOT. But this study onlyconsidered the deployment of wind power in a single area. Thecombination of wind and solar, the geographical distributionof renewable investments in multiple areas have not beenaddressed with full set of flexibility constraints for China,which happens to be dominant by inflexible coal fired units.Here we investigate the large-scale, long-term transition to-wards higher penetration of variable renewables for the north-western regional power systems of China. The northwesternregional grid covers 5 provinces, with a geographical area sim-ilar to India. It is the most important base for wind and solarinvestment in China: 43 GW of wind power had been installedby 2016, with an additional 30 GW of solar power, accountingfor approximately half of the national total solar installation. Wefocus on the optimal generation mix and geographical alloca-tion of generation resources for the year of 2035, under differentpenetration of renewables and low carbon policies. Incorporat-ing NASA meteorological data base, we evaluate the qualityand costs of wind and solar resource in this region. Consideringthe resource availability, variability and costs, the optimal in-vestments decisions are evaluated with detailed considerationsof hourly system operation for the full year.
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