Spinning, Non-Spinning, and Supplemental Reserves

A certain reserve capacity is usually available when operating an electrical power system. This reserve capacity is called upon in case some generation capacity becomes unavailable unexpectedly thus ensuring system operation and availability.

Spinning reserve is reserve capacity connected and synchronized with the grid and can respond to compensate for generation or transmission outages. In remote grids spinning reserve is mainly present to cover for volatile consumption. In case a reserve is used to maintain system frequency, the reserve should be able to respond quickly. Spinning reserves are the first type of backup that is used when a power shortage occurs.

Non-spinning reserve is connected but not synchronized with the grid and usually available within 10 minutes. Examples are offline generation capacity or a block of interruptible loads.

Supplemental reserve is available within one hour and is usually a backup for spinning and non-spinning reserves. Supplemental reserves are used after all spinning reserves are online.

Stored energy reserves are usually charged energy backups that have to be available for discharge when required to ensure grid stability. An example of a spinning reserve is an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system, which can provide nearly instantaneous power in the event of a power interruption or a protection from a sudden power surge. Large UPS systems can sometimes maintain a whole local grid in case of a power outage; this application is called island operation.