Best practices for power sector transformation


The challenges associated with accommodating renewables increase as the share of variable renewable energy grows. Power sector transformation should be approached in a multi-dimensional way, as these challenges and related measures depend on a broad range of factors. They include country size, temperature and seasonal patterns; existing generation fleets; storage assets; transmission grids; renewables–load mismatches; neighbouring country profiles; market design; regulatory frameworks and many other aspects.

Figure 2 - Solar and wind instantaneous share in relation to yearly share in power generation

IRENA Knowledge Framework

IRENA tracks the measures applied in countries around the world to overcome such challenges. The IRENA Knowledge Framework consists in a database containing solutions applied in front-runner countries to best integrate variable renewable energy in power systems. The dashboard below presents some of these, which can be filtered according to the challenge they are designed to overcome, the enablers required for implementation or the sector under which they are located. The user can also observe the countries and the VRE share at the time of their application. A measure applied in the present may also act as an enabler for later action.

Figure 3 - Dashboard with the list of measures to integrate solar and wind

The IRENA Knowledge Framework for power sector transformation helps countries identify the next steps towards decarbonising their power system by diagnosing areas needing further attention to move forward with renewables. By observing front-runner countries’ “learning-by-doing” pathways, the Knowledge Framework gathers useful information, benchmarking experiences and successful measures that can be shared with other countries with similar enabling conditions.

As part of this approach, IRENA has developed more than 20 indicators in the following macro-sectors: flexibility; transmission; demand response and storage; interconnectors; operations; and markets.

Using these indicators, IRENA can correlate the measures that have been implemented in a specific country and the time when the measure was applied, serving as a first-hand assessment of the challenges and solutions to increasing the share of solar and wind energy.

A set of dashboards on countries’ profiles and measures is presented below.

Figure 4 - Set of indicators to represent a country profile
Figure 5 - Development of VRE share and indicators per country, and measures for power sector transformation per year, VRE share and indicators

The Knowledge Framework assists IRENA Members by providing possible solutions to address specific power sector transformation challenges in a given country. Recently, at the request of the 2019 Japanese G20 presidency, the Framework provided inputs for a current status and outlook report on solutions to integrate high shares of variable renewable energy for G20 countries.

IRENA organises workshops with countries that have faced – and in some cases successfully overcome – similar challenges to discuss best practices and their applicability based on enabling conditions and efficient implementation. Relevant literature and other materials are also provided, drawn from the work of IRENA and its partners in the field, to highlight the methodologies and power system studies employed to develop solutions.

Figure 6 - Setting of workshops to discuss challenges to integrate renewables