Major economies around world have significantly ramped up the share of wind and solar power in their energy system without compromising the security of their grid, according to a new report released yesterday by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).
The paper details how countries such as Denmark, Uruguay, and Germany have an “outsize” share of wind and solar on their grid system, without suffering extreme negative impacts on supply that many critics of clean energy argue is a major drawback of variable renewables.
Gerard Wyn, energy finance consultant for IEEFA and lead author of the report, said the analysis demonstrates that using current grid technologies power grids can be readily sourced with up to 50 per cent renewable power without causing major problems.
“As we speak, renewables are being integrated in these states and nations at levels in excess of 10 times global averages by using a menu of options and actions to integrate these clean, low-carbon power sources into electricity markets,” Wynn said. “The tools exist now to spectacularly grow the global generation of wind and solar power worldwide.”
The study looked at nine of the top 15 power markets and looked at how grid operators have adapted to having large shares of renewables coming on to the grid.
“We draw attention to actions that system operators can consider immediately, all of which can help ease the integration process and assure security of supply,” Wynn said. “Other states and countries can follow the lead of these policymakers, investors, and regulators, according to their circumstances, and so avoid radical redesigns of their power markets,” he said.
In particular, good practice from system operators cited by the report includes investing in a timely transmission system to reduce power losses and congestion, promoting cross-border interconnection to help share excess power and source back-up generation when needed, and having a policy of prioritising flexible generation assets to balance wind and solar power.
It also suggests flexible back-up supplies and the use of demand-side response can help ease the integration of variable renewables on the power grid.
“Change is happening at breakneck speed, in the here and now, overtaking academic discussions on how quickly or whether this transition can happen,” Wynn concluded.