Europe hailed for leadership in integration

The International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) has hailed the EU as a role model for renewable energy in a report looking at ways to integrate wind and solar into power systems.

Irena backed Europe's efforts to develop new technologies and processes for integrating variable generation (pic: Acciona)
Irena backed Europe's efforts to develop new technologies and processes for integrating variable generation (pic: Acciona)

First published on Ends Europe

The "first of its kind mapping and analysis of innovations that will transform the power sector" was unveiled by Irena's director-general Adnan Amin at an event hosted by the European Commission in Brussels.

Irena emphasised it is "crucial" to learn from countries at the forefront of integrating variable renewables.

With wind and solar accounting for close to 15% of electricity generation, the EU’s grid accommodates the world’s highest levels of variable renewable power.

"Europe has shown tremendous leadership in initiating the system-wide innovations needed to support the widespread adoption of renewables," Amin said at the launch.

The report lists 30 innovations grouped into four categories: enabling technologies (e.g. batteries), business models (e.g. aggregators), market design and system operation.

It includes more than 200 real-world examples of projects trialling and implementing these innovations.

The agency explored synergies between these innovations to come up with a list of 11 "solutions" to increase power system flexibility and, by extension, enable greater take-up of variable renewables.

The solutions span supply-side, grid, demand-side and system flexibility.

The goal is also to reduce the costs of system operation, which, the report noted, accounts for half of the cost of electricity in the EU.

An impact assessment of the solutions suggested demand side and market design innovations are a good place to start, thanks to their lower costs and moderate to high impact.

Grids, storage and power-to-X solutions are better suited to more advanced systems, since they come at higher cost but also offer greater flexibility.

Two solutions are no-regret options for all power systems, Irena said: advanced forecasting to reduce wind and solar generation uncertainty and demand-side management.

Irena believed the Paris Climate Agreement requires 85% renewables in the global power system by 2050, with variable renewables covering 60% of overall electricity generation.

First published on Ends Europe

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