FlexTool regional studies

Central America flexibility analysis

The Renewable Energy Roadmap for Central America evaluates the integration of renewable and low-carbon technologies into the end-use and power sectors of seven Central American countries. The analysis serves as technical guidance to support the decision-making process of policy makers, energy planners, government institutions and the private sector as they define low-carbon development in the region. IRENA used FlexTool to analyse the flexibility of Central America’s regional power system, and used REmap to evaluate the decarbonisation of end uses.

The scenario with the most ambitious penetration of renewables suggests that the SIEPAC line across the region should reach an optimal transfer capacity of about 2 GW by 2050, from the existing capacity 300 MW. This more interconnected Central America would allow the following:

  • Increase the installed renewable capacity by around 10 GW, while avoiding the commissioning of 900 MW of natural gas-fired plants. It would also reduce the regional grid emission factor from 60 g CO2/kWh generated to 20 g CO2/kWh.
  • Avoid the curtailment of 7 TWh in 2050 under the most aggressive renewable scenario.
  • Bring considerable cost benefits, achieving 7% lower costs per unit of electricity generated by 2050 than the planned energy scenario.

Mutual reliance on regional operation and planning has significant efficiency benefits and can help lower costs while meeting higher electricity demand. Electricity storage is also likely to be necessary, even under the regional grid expansion case.

ASEAN energy transition analysis

The nations of Southeast Asia constitute one of the most dynamic and fastest-growing regions globally. Before the pandemic crisis, the region was expected to experience rapid economic growth averaging 5% per year to 2025, resulting in around 50% higher energy demand compared to a decade earlier. The region stands at a crossroads in its collective energy future. Growth brings challenges as the ASEAN region strives to supply energy affordably, sustainably and securely. The region is already starting to see the effects of rising energy import dependency, higher levels of air pollution and rising emissions. A response to the current crisis also has the potential to lock in investments for years to come.

IRENA is preparing a new analysis and report, the “ASEAN Energy Transition Outlook: Energy Transformation 2050”, to define an energy system transition pathway for the region driven by renewable energy while emphasising affordability, sustainability and security. IRENA is preparing the power sector assessment component, which will look at how the ten ASEAN countries together can maximise renewables by adopting integrated and co operative operations.

Energy transition pathways in South America

Currently, IRENA is conducting regional analysis for South America. Anticipating a future where South American countries heavily rely on renewable energy for power production, with variable renewable sources (VRE) complementing the region's abundant hydropower resources, the analysis highlights collaborative opportunities for nations to enhance flexibility within their national and regional power systems. Alongside other parallel analyses utilising diverse tools, IRENA intends to leverage its FlexTool toolkit to evaluate the flexibility of South America's power systems and their capacity to integrate higher proportions of renewable energy. The insights generated from this comprehensive approach will be instrumental for policymakers, energy planners, governmental bodies, and private sector stakeholders, empowering them to devise effective low-carbon development strategies for the region.

IRENA is developing a regional analysis for South America. This will investigate renewable energy options and help compare energy transition plans across the region until 2050. IRENA aims to use its FlexTool toolkit to evaluate system flexibility under higher shares of variable renewable energy. The FlexTool study evaluates power system flexibility based on national capacity expansion plans and projections. IRENA and the Enel Foundation collaborated to gather data inputs for the FlexTool study. The brief details the data collection and consolidation performed for Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, and Peru to populate the FlexTool model.

Energy transition pathways in South America