Solar photovoltaics (PV) and wind power have been the fastest growing forms of power generation in the last five years. Their share is expected to increase from 3 per cent of annual generation production in 2014 to around 20 per cent by 2030. In the utilities industry, where investment times are thought of in decades rather than years, solar PV costs alone have fallen nearly 80 per cent since 2008, a phenomenon that countries can use to their advantage.
Increased use of solar PV and wind power will have profound impacts on how our power systems are operated, managed, financed and governed. There will be a need for more distributed control systems across utilities, regions in countries and between countries themselves. This change will also introduce a new information paradigm, which will demand enhanced data processing capabilities and data sharing; and the reconsideration of privacy laws, communication protocols and data security measures.
It is in this context that IRENA has released a new report to support countries in power sector transformation towards renewable energy. The Age of Renewable Power, released at the Innovation for Cool Earth Forum, identifies 20 measures that can be taken to support the development of a national roadmap on the integration of variable renewables, and provides valuable lessons from countries already on the path towards a power system transformation.
IRENA’s report provides countries with a framework to develop national roadmaps on power sector transformation. The framework focuses on: the process to determine the relevant grid integration measures, assessing the local conditions within the specific country and ensuring that all stakeholders involved are aligned. The report also assesses the role of smart grids for renewable energy integration, electricity storage for islands and grid investment.
The Age of Renewable Power addresses the needs expressed by the Clean Energy Ministerial and the G20, which have asked IRENA to help diffuse best practices and assist in their plans to develop national roadmaps or strategies for the power sector transformation.