Authors are: National Renewable Energy Laboratory: M. Miller, L. Bird, J. Cochran, M. Milligan, M. Bazilian; Ecar Limited: E. Denny, J. Dillon, J. Bialek, M. O’Malley; DIW Berlin: K. Neuhoff
The rapid deployment of renewable sources of electricity (RES-E) is transforming power systems globally. This trend is likely to continue with large increases in investment and deployment of RES-E capacity over the coming decades. Several countries now have penetration levels of variable RES-E generation (i.e., wind and solar) in excess of 15% of their annual electricity generation; and many jurisdictions (e.g., Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Germany, and Denmark; and, in the United States, Colorado) have experienced instantaneous penetration levels of more than 50% variable generation. These penetration levels of variable RES-E have prompted many jurisdictions to begin modifying practices that evolved in an era of readily dispatchable, centralised power systems.
Providing insights for the transition to high levels of variable RES-E generation is the focus of this document, which is the final report of the RES-E-NEXT project commissioned by the International Energy Agency’s implementing agreement on Renewable Energy Technology Deployment (IEA-RETD). It presents a comprehensive assessment of issues that will shape power system evolution during the transition to high levels of variable RES-E generation. While policy will be a central tool to sustain the growth of RES-E capacity and to enable power system transitions, the scope of the report extends beyond policy considerations to include the related domains of regulation, power market design, and system operation protocols. This broad scope is in recognition that a changing resource mix with greater penetration levels of variable RES-E has broad implications for grid operations, wholesale and retail power markets, and infrastructure needs.
The next decade will be a critical transition period for power system stakeholders, as global deployment of RES-E capacity (and especially variable RES-E capacity) continues to scale-up in many regions of the world. To address increased penetration levels of RES-E in power systems and the new challenges that could emerge, coordinated portfolios of policies, market designs, regulations, and operational protocols are essential. The goal for policymakers is to facilitate investment in RES-E technologies and to enable efficient and reliable system operation, costeffective service delivery, and continued public acceptance.
Although the factors that impact the speed and scale of RES-E deployment manifest uniquely in each power system, in the transition to high shares of variable RES-E this report identifies four critical domains and the changing drivers that will shape next-generation policy for each. These domains comprise the major sections of this report.