IRENA calls for energy roadmaps to integrate renewables

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has released a new report, The Age of Renewable Power: Designing National Roadmaps for a Successful Transformation aimed at assisting countries in integrating renewables into their power sectors. "Power sector transformation should focus on a transition of the system as a whole, and not treat the integration of renewable power generation as a separate issue," states IRENA.

Policy makers will need to play a central role in this transformation, writes the agency, anticipating the effects of the transformation and, rather against their usual nature, take a holistic approach and long-term perspective when planning. They will also need to remain flexible, and adapt strategies based on what has been learned.

Specifically, says IRENA, they will need to establish three pillars to support the selection of relevant grid integration measures, comprising: data collection and energy planning; flexibility assessment; and technology evaluation.

"To develop a successful national strategy on power sector transformation, policy-makers must anticipate the effects this transformation will have on economic development, energy security and the environment," explains the agency. "To do this … [they] must ensure data collection and energy planning tools are in place, examine existing flexibility options, and secure human capacity to develop and adapt technologies to local conditions."

Regarding the actual designing of national roadmaps, IRENA says that while international cooperation is important, it is crucial to develop national roadmaps with tailored, local solutions, as each country situation is unique, and has a different mix of renewables, for example.

The agency also highlights the importance of stakeholders, including both identifying new stakeholders (like distributed generators, prosumers and new financial institutions) and the changing roles of existing stakeholders; and engaging them in dialogue. Selecting relevant grid integration measures is also crucial. The table below provides an overview of the different measures recommended by IRENA.

Stakeholder group affected



Grid connection codes



Performance reporting

Grid connection and access

System operators

Nodal pricing for congestion management

Incentive for investments

Integrated network planning

Public engagement

Reliability reporting

Demand side

New models for self-consumption

New tariff structures

Demand side management


Sub-hourly scheduling and power markets

Control power markets and procurement


uring capacity adequacy

Market integration and cooperation

Data ownership rights

Technology providers

Communication standards

Renewable energy capacity

Currently, says IRENA, the total installed capacity of all renewable power generation technologies combined is larger than that of nuclear power stations, gas-fired power stations; and similar to that of coal-fired power stations.

Specifically, the agency calculates that renewable power generation capacity accounted for 1,828 GW in 2014, compared to around 1,500 GW of gas-fired power stations and 1,880 GW of coal-fired power stations globally. Of this, hydropower accounts for 1,172 GW, followed by wind at 370 GW, and solar PV at 175 GW.

Outstripping newly installed fossil and nuclear capacity combined, it says "well over" 100 GW of renewable capacity has been added on an annual basis since 2011. This resulted in the share of renewables in 2014 total electricity production exceeding 22%, of which "variable renewable energy sources," solar PV and wind accounted for 3.6%.

Annual generation production of wind and solar PV is expected to grow from 3% annually in 2014, to around 20% in 2030, while renewables overall are set to increase to 27%. "This development will have profound impacts on how our power systems are operated, managed, financed and governed," states IRENA.

It adds, however, that results in its recently published Remap 2030 indicate that current market growth has been underestimated and that the share of renewables in the power sector could increase to more than 40% by 2030, with "the option to deploy an additional 800 GW of solar PV and 550 GW of wind between 2010 and 2030."

It states, "… more than one-third of the solar PV deployment could be achieved in a distributed manner in residential and commercial sectors, including rural electrification."