DNV GL finds energy executives positive for high-penetration RE future

A recent survey by independent energy collective DNV GL has revealed that the majority of professionals working in the energy industry are confident that the global electricity system can be dominated by renewable energy (RE) in the future.

The survey was conducted as part of DNV GL’s industry research initiative titled Beyond Integration: Three dynamics shaping renewables and the grid, which assesses ways to rebalance current energy rules, introduce new economic metrics and expand industry thinking beyond the current ‘siloed’ approach.

The key findings from the survey emerged in response to the question that asked respondents to imagine a future scenario in which RE accounted for 70% of the power sector generation. When asked how likely this scenario is, eight out of ten respondents felt that this could be achieved by 2050, and almost half believe it can be achieved in the next 15 years.

The survey also asked which markets and sectors would be most challenged by this transition, and from where might new opportunities arise? The opinions of the 1,600 energy sector participants involved will be used to address three dynamics identified by GNV DL as pivotal in reshaping RE’s relationship with the grid: convergence of metrics, rebalancing of rules, and expansion of horizons.

The findings suggest that current industry thinking is too straitened, with the incumbent siloed approach to energy integration likely to stymie rather than support greater RE penetration in the future. The report suggests that new entrepreneurial models will expand the electricity business into the "Internet of Energy", while new economic metrics for RE will be required to converge the demands made by governments, policy makers and system operators.

Equally, rules on interconnection will need to be rebalanced in order for developers and system operations to move towards a high RE-dominated system.

"DNV GL’s analysis of these findings concludes that the solution for a high renewable future demands a dramatic change in the industry’s approach to the integration of new technology," said DNV GL’s CEO, David Walker. "We need to adopt more collaborative shift approaches and go beyond old metrics, beyond old rules and beyond old silos."

Walker added that a shift away from the prevailing – but diminishing – attitude that deems renewables a nuisance that must be accommodated, towards a more balanced approach that identifies the benefits of RE is already occurring. "The debate needs to move beyond integration, and DNV GL is taking a broader view and opening that discussion."