On the sidelines of the Pacific Energy Summit in New Zealand, IRENA launched global interest clusters on renewable energy technology roadmaps for islands and renewable energy for power grids on islands. These will be the first two activities for GREIN, the Global Renewable Energy Islands Network (pronounced “green”), that IRENA’s Members endorsed at the Assembly in January.
Formed in response to a need identified by the Malta Declaration of September 2012, GREIN is envisioned as a platform for pooling knowledge, sharing best practices, and seeking innovative solutions to accelerate the uptake of clean and cost-effective renewable energy technologies on islands. The network will be of value to islands in the Pacific, the Caribbean and Indian Ocean, as well as to virtual islands across the world. These islands all face energy security pay the price of being heavily reliant on imports of high cost fossil fuels, many of which renewable energy can replace. Islands typically rely on expensive diesel for electricity – often at a cost of 40 cents or more per kWh. This is two to five times the typical cost paid by large scale mainland power grids.
Road Maps Interest Cluster
The Interest Cluster on Renewable Energy Technology Roadmaps for Islands will be led by Solomone Fifita of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community. It focuses on the mix of renewable technologies that might be developed on islands in a cost-effective fashion over time. For island power grids, this might include wind, solar, marine, hydro, geothermal, and biomass. For island transport, this might include elements of biofuels or electric vehicles fuelled by renewable power. For buildings on islands, solar hot water heating, absorption heat pumps for air conditioning, photovoltaic panels, and improvements in energy efficiency could all play a useful role in reducing net energy consumption.
The interest cluster provides a platform for islands with similar renewable resource options, energy end use requirements and electricity and transport needs, to share their knowledge and experience on the benefits and challenges associated with different technology choices and deployment strategies. IRENA has developed a methodology to help islands analysis their energy options and find a mix of technologies and partners that will meet their needs, while also being practical and affordable to implement within the desired timeframe.
Power Grids Interest Cluster
The Interest Cluster on Power Grid Integration on Islands will be led by Andrew Daka of the Pacific Power Association. Its focus is the share of renewable power that can be integrated into grids while maintained grid stability and service reliability. This share is a function of the types of renewable resources available and the status of grid development. Grid stability is critical as higher shares of variable renewable energy sources are integrated to island grid systems.
The interest cluster provides a platform for islands facing similar challenges of grid stability to share their experiences and knowledge on possible technology options and capacity building measures to overcome these challenges. IRENA has developed a methodology to help islands assess their grid stability, which will enable islands to plan for the integration of high shares of renewables into their grids.