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An introduction
Modern society requires a constant and reliable power supply
so that its activities can be done successfully. For this to
happen, Ancillary Services play a very important role
monitoring the power system constantly and giving solutions to
emergency situations.

Ancillary Services in Power Systems

Ancillary Services in Power Systems


In the laboratory we could appreciate that generated voltage and electrical frequency could vary as the
load varies. As this happens, other problems affect the power systems performance such as sudden power
trips or greater scale emergencies. The power system must be prepared to mitigate them so that the supplied
electricity can maintain a constant voltage and electrical frequency. Failure to do so would lead into
customers devices broken down and a lot of money lost in customers that require constant and reliable power
For these problems, services have been created to affront these deviations. To these services, we call them
Ancillary Services. Ancillary services are present in all electricity markets and they are indispensable to every
power system. The present essay will cover a basic introduction to ancillary services. It will define what they
are, what their importance is and their relationship with synchronous generators.


Electric power systems must maintain a constant balance between generation and load. This is due to the
variation of generated voltage seen when the load changes. Also it is essential for the system to manage
power flows within the constraints of individual transmission facilities. Also the Federal Energy Regulation
Committee defines ancillary services as
Those necessary to support the transmission of electric power from seller to
purchase given the obligations of control areas and transmitting utilities within
those control areas to maintain reliable operations of the interconnected
transmission system. (Eric Hirst, 1996)
In a national power system loads and generators fluctuate constantly. Millions of customers devices are
connected and disconnected every minute. These small variations have to be monitored by a minute-to-minute
online analyzing system. Other fact is the seasonal changes and the generators prime movers speed
variations. For example, the output from a wind generator varies every day, every minute.

Ancillar y services required during normal conditions

These account for the minute-to-minute analyzing system. Also longer period of time analysis must be done so
the seasonal changes can be seen and the operator can design a system to affront these changes in the
system. This system is commonly provided by a dedicated resource, usually a generator. This generator output
has a control system that lets it accommodate to the fluctuations of load and generation.
This type of continuous regulation is required to maintain the system frequency. Continuous regulation can be
controlled based on frequency or tie flow. Depending on the energy market deviation tolerances are set for
the electric frequency. In North America the frequency is tightly controlled, showing a tolerance of (0.035

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Ancillary Services in Power Systems

Other normal conditions services is the Energy Imbalance Management. This is a review of the energy supply
and demand so that they are continuously balanced. This management also reviews seasonal changes, for
example in summer, in hot places the usage of air conditioners is increased and the electric power system has
to account for it.

Ancillar y services used during system contingencies

In common operation, there are generator outages and transmission line failures that have to be solved in
order to maintain the power system functionality. System operators have a coordinated set of operating
reserves that can respond to contingencies without affecting overall reliability.
Instantaneous Contingency Reserve operates to restore the balance mentioned in the continuous operation
services section. This reserve operates after a sudden unexpected loss of a major generator or transmission
line. When the generation trips power system frequency drops suddenly. Since this is a major frequency loss,
common continuous regulation services cant afford to deal with this, so a greater reserve has to be available
to compensate even the worst credible event.
Replacement Reserve Service is the one that has slower response times but they can respond over longer
durations. The Instantaneous Contingency Reserve is, as its name mentions, instantaneous and it has to be
complemented with a longer duration service. These types of reserve must be able to respond within 15-30
minutes after a contingency happens.

Other ancillary services

Voltage support service. This service balances the reactive power and the real power throughout the power
system. This is due to prevention of voltage collapse and cascading blackouts. Static reactive power support is
provided by capacitors located along the grid, while dynamic reactive support comes from generators,
synchronous condensers or dynamic transmission devices.
Ancillary services vary considerably across electricity markets. As described by the Berkeley National
Laboratory, there are six ancillary services required for maintaining system reliability and security in these
This is a basic classification of the ancillary services but it is seen that all the electricity markets use them, the
difference lies only in the nomenclature, technical requirements and procurement details.


Ancillary services are critical to power system security and reliability. Plus, their value to society is high due to
the reliability placed on the electric service by customers. When talking of cost benefits for the customers,
ancillary services play a very important role. Lack of balance management in the system leads to a volatility
in the costs of energy, therefore market participants are always motivated in hedging agreements so this
does not happen.
Their function in the system has proved to be essential and moreover, in most competitive wholesale markets
the cost of ancillary services is small compared to the total market turnover. Studies have shown that this cost is
between 1-3 percent of total electricity market value. (Heffner, et al., 2007) In many markets load
aggregators have been able to take advantage of the market opportunity of ancillary services. This is
because of the requests of the operator to load aggregators to fill a niche market in the ancillary services

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Ancillary Services in Power Systems

Nowadays, important innovations in both enabling technology and market development in the electricity
market have been spotted. Third party market participants have been for a long time active in mobilizing
load participation. This steady progress, new low-cost communications and control equipment will make
household-level electric loads able to provide operating reserves.
Ancillary services are a critical part of the power systems overall sustainability and reliability. As described
above, ancillary services consist of many level services that have to be tightly regulated and controlled.
Therefore, regulators and policy makers are working in power systems plans that enhance the services to
better levels to respond successfully to the reliability placed on them. The system operator has to enable and
coordinate the services so that along with their contribution to the services, third party market participants can
help to achieve better systems reliability.


As seen in the laboratory, a synchronous generator generates voltage and an electrical frequency depending
on two main factors: Voltage applied to the field windings and the velocity of the prime mover of the
generator. When supplying energy to a city or a town, the generated voltage and its frequency vary as the
load varies. For example, in the night when everybody goes to sleep the load is reduced and the generated
voltage increases, while in the night when everybody is watching TV the load is increased and the generated
voltage decreases. This is a basic approach to what role ancillary services play in the system. Generators
have to compensate all the effects in the power system so that a specified electrical frequency and the
voltage are maintained.
Synchronous generators are used in many plants to generate electricity and introduce it to the power system.
They are the majority source of commercial electrical energy. They normally are used to convert the power
output of steam turbines, gas turbines, diesel powered turbines, etc. Therefore, the importance of knowing how
synchronous generators work is clear and visible. They play a major role in ancillary services as backup
generators or emergency generators as described above. For example, the response to fast fluctuations is
distributed among generators, based on each machine characteristics of course.

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Ancillary Services in Power Systems

Ancillary services are a pillar to the electric power system so that it can operate successfully. The role of these
services has to be split in the operator and third party market participants so that better results are achieved.
For this to happen the system operator must regulate and make policies that clearly state the requirements of
the system so that the customer isnt affected by the lack of balance the system could have. Usage of control
systems and new technology will help both the operator and the third party market participants to meet the
regulations requirements.
Cost of ancillary services is small compared to the total electricity market value. In spite of that, the role these
services play has proved to be essential. Therefore, ancillary services are a benefit that isnt too expensive
and that helps all the systems customers. In the future, technology will be able to make house hold customers
part of the ancillary services by providing these under a new contract basis.
As seen in the laboratory, each generator plays a role in the generation of electricity. Every power plant has
a generator and most of them are synchronous generators. This speaks of the importance of the synchronous
generators in todays power system management. Also, this makes all electricity suppliers to be aware of
constant review of their power plants parameters, given that each generator has its own settings. The
operator must have monitoring resources that allows them to spot places where the requirements are not met
or places where they can rely when an emergency occurs.

Eric Hirst, B. K., 1996. Electric-Power Ancillary Services, Tennessee: U.S. Department of Energy.
Heffner, G., Goldman, C., Kirby, B. & Kintner-Meyer, M., 2007. Loads Providing Ancillary Services: Review of
International Experience, s.l.: Berkeley National Laboratory.
Kirby, B., 2007. Ancillary Services: Technical and Commercial Insights, s.l.: Wrtsil.
Power Exchange Operations, 2010. Guide To Ancillary Services In The National Electricity Market, s.l.:
Australian Energy Market Operator.

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