Tech Innovation: Grid Code Study Launch, Electric Highways & More

Energy experts, students and policy makers reconvened today for the second day of IRENA’s Innovation Week. Today’s focus was on technology innovations that can help achieve higher shares of renewable energy worldwide, both on and off the grid.

To further explore the specifics and practical applications of these technologies, participants attended deep-dive sessions on their area of interest, including smart mini and microgrids, energy storage, electric vehicles, electric highways and new market designs. During the deep dive session on reliability and quality, IRENA launched a new study on grid codes, which – while it may sound dry and technical – is a major tool to help scale up renewable energy worldwide.

Integrating a higher share of variable renewable energy (VRE) into the electricity grid is an issue concerning many countries. Some worry that VRE will disturb business-as-usual procedures for managing power systems, resulting in power supply interruptions. But a number of countries have already shown that a higher share of VRE is possible today with the right technical measures.

This is where grid codes become key.

For those outside the industry, grid connection codes are a set of technical requirements power generators must fulfill to obtain the permit to connect to a grid. They ensure that generators provide the technical capabilities necessary for safe, secure, stable, reliable and efficient power system operations.

The new study, Scaling up Variable Renewable Power: The Role of Grid Codes, collects best-practices and lessons learned from different countries on developing grid codes and distills this research into clear guidelines that can help countries achieve a higher share of variable renewables. It offers revealing case studies from several countries, including:

  • Barbados: Early stages of grid code development for a country with rising VRE targets
  • Germany: Policy and technical co-ordination to resolve the “50.2 Hertz problem” triggered by rapid penetration of solar PV in low-voltage systems
  • Ireland: Challenges posed by wind power in an island system without strong cross-border interconnections

“Grid codes are instrumental in addressing the challenges of high share of VRE in grids,” said Dolf Gielen, Director of IRENA’s Innovation and Technology Centre. “They reconcile the key priorities of a power system, delivering secure electrical supply while also enabling the deployment innovative low-carbon technologies.”

Tomorrow, discussions at IRENA’s Innovation Week will shift to operational innovation and solutions for the challenges of scaling up renewable energy worldwide. This final day will also begin work to create a global innovation agenda, setting priorities for action moving forward.

Plenary sessions available on live webcast

Full plenary session recordings will be posted to YouTube following the event.

Event website

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