Renewable energy accounts for around 22% of global power generation, but this share is expected to double in the next 15 years, partly due to the rapid growth of variable renewable energy from solar photovoltaics and wind. This IRENA/IEA-ETSAP Technology Brief provides an overview of the main performance and costs of technologies that are used to support renewable energy grid integration, an overview of the shares of variable renewable energy across the world, and existing operational experiences in continental and island systems.
There are several technology options available that can help integrate variable renewable energy into power systems. Furthermore, new advances in wind and solar technologies allow them to be used over a wider range of conditions. In the longer run, however, power systems with high shares of variable renewable power generation will require a re-thinking the traditional designs, operations, and planning practices from a technical and an economical point of view.
Two immediate applications for innovative technologies and operation modes for the integration of high shares of solar photovoltaics and wind are in mini-grids and islands. Furthermore, any economic analysis of the transition towards a renewables-based system should always consider the total system costs, including social and environmental benefits.
This technology brief accompanies IRENA’s Power Sector Transformation package.
It also belongs to a continuing Technology Briefs series produced by IRENA in collaboration with the International Energy Agency’s Energy Technology Systems Analysis Programme (IEA-ETSAP). Others in the series include:
IRENA-IEA-ETSAP Technology Briefs set (2013)