Planning is an essential activity for the energy sector. It helps to anticipate potential challenges and identify suitable preventive solutions. Experience shows that failing to successfully carry out planning activities could result in a slower expansion of Variable Renewable Energy (VRE), a need to invest in expensive retrofitting of network assets, a lower reliability of the power system or a need to curtail VRE production, among others.
Long-term planning, over the course of 20–40 years, is a central component of the energy sector and energy policy-making processes around the world. A jurisdiction’s energy plan – and the process of planning itself – can equip policy makers with an understanding of the complex economic, political and environmental interrelations and uncertainties surrounding energy systems. Long-term energy plans feature quantitative scenarios and targets for the energy mix that meet a country’s overall policy goals, guiding the process of when, where and how to invest in the energy sector. Policy instruments and regulations can also be created or adapted to achieve these targets.
Operational planning deals with shorter-term horizons, ensuring that the existing and planned generation assets and schedules can meet the forecasted load without resulting in violation of technical limits of the different power system equipment, as well as without endangering system stability and security.
IRENA supports Members in energy planning efforts through a wide range of on-the-ground activities, including regional training workshops, support to countries in energy master plan development, and grid integration support for islands.