Scaling up the share of renewables in the global energy system is central to limiting climate change, achieving sustainable development, and building more prosperous and resilient economies. Under IRENA’s recently released Global Renewables Outlook, modern renewable energy would supply 28 per cent of total final energy by 2030 and 66 per cent by 2050. Pursuing such a pathway, however, requires clear strategies at a national and global level to support the integration of renewable energy at utility scale.
Many countries are making strong progress in this regard, with power systems increasingly dominated by renewable energy technologies, while others are pursuing aspirational renewables targets and climate action commitments. In all cases, strategies to integrate renewables into energy systems is an area of important consideration and was the focus of the recently concluded Collaborative Framework on ‘Enhancing the Dialogue on High Shares of Renewables in Energy Systems’ hosted by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
The event was attended by more than 40 IRENA Members and featured interventions from 18 countries all over the world at various stages of renewable energy development.
The discussion offered a platform for Members to interact, sharing experiences and ideas relative to integrating high shares of variable renewables such as the importance of a holistic energy planning approach, and the need to rethink energy system operation. Members also pointed out that the establishment of greater cross-border interconnections can be a key enabler of renewables uptake, giving neighbouring countries an opportunity to build cooperation whilst creating regional markets for renewable power trade.
With more countries moving to higher shares of renewables, IRENA’s role in facilitating peer-to-peer collaboration and technical assistance on key issues relevant to accelerating the energy transformation, was noted by Members. As has been central to IRENA’s Collaborative Framework series, Members were also encouraged to put forward requests and ideas for the Agency’s future work in this space. “Your perspectives will help us to tailor this collaborative platform to your needs and identify next steps of its development,” the Director-General said at the start of the meeting.
Beyond cross-border collaboration, the Membership deliberated areas of discussion focused on cross-sectoral strategies needed to ensure that renewable energy development contributes to the achievement of other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly in sectors such as food security, water resources and health.
The need for systemic innovation that goes beyond technology to focus on market design, business models and system operation, were highlighted as key focus areas. Members stressed that each focal area is critical, however, the development of enabling frameworks remained central to the process. And while the optimum solutions are those that are tailored to the specifics of the national energy system, through IRENA, there is scope for countries to share practical experiences and ensure that future innovation is fostered and utilised.
The proposed framework builds on IRENA’s work to date in this field, aiming to inform discussion and future analysis, and promoting dialogue and practical cooperation between countries with high shares of renewable energy, or aspiring to achieve high-shares of renewables in their energy mix.