The United Nations' Sustainable Development Goal 7 calls for universal electrification by 2030. We are going to start this article by saying something controversial about it. Here we go. Achieving universal electrification requires subsidy. We’re not quite sure when this became controversial. But it did. And the history of electrification shows it must have been very recently.
It wasn’t controversial in 1935 when President Roosevelt implemented the world’s first rural electrification program, spending roughly 0.3 percent of U.S. GDP annually — or $18 billion in 2018 dollars — on government-subsidized loans for rural electrification. Within two decades, the proportion of electrified farms in the U.S. increased from 10 percent to over 90 percent.
“Without access to reliable, affordable electricity services, a country’s journey to self-reliance is at risk,” explains Nicole Barnes, Vice President for Learning, Energy, and Environment for Development at RTI. “Our approach will support the region’s development priorities by improving the integration of the technical and human systems that permit the exchange of power will increase competition, drive down consumer tariffs, and improve regional reliability and access to energy.”
Innovative solutions accelerate low-cost renewables in the power sector, providing countries with tools to benefit from renewables scale-up, new IRENA report finds. Countries at the forefront of the energy transformation are getting more than a third of their energy from variable renewables like solar and wind, and they’re doing it in a cost-effective manner. By making use of innovative solutions that allow to integrate a higher share of renewables into power systems, innovation holds the key to a cost-effective global energy transformation.
These findings come from a first-of-a-kind mapping and analysis of innovations that will transform the power sector, launched by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) today in Brussels. IRENA’s Director-General Adnan Z. Amin presented the report in the presence of EU Energy and Climate Action Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete at an official launch event hosted by the European Commission. The report “Innovation Landscape for a Renewable-Powered Future: Solutions to integrate variable renewables” contains the most in-depth assessment of the power sector transformation to date. It shows how synergies between different innovative solutions in business models, market design, enabling technologies and system operation are lowering the cost of integrating high shares of variable renewable energy (VRE), while making energy production, transmission and consumption more flexible and empowering a new generation of energy consumers.
In an electricity world that sees variable renewables at the centre stage, market players and policy makers cannot overlook the need for flexibility, a game where storage technologies are expected to play a key role.
The strong expansion of variable renewables, which are projected to make up more than half of global capacity additions to 2040 in the IEA’s New Policies Scenario (NPS), has major implications for electricity, first among them is the need for increased flexibility. Globally, electricity demand is projected to grow by over 20% over the next decade, but flexibility – the ability of the power system to quickly adapt to changes in power supply and demand – grows by some 80%. Flexibility will therefore be the cornerstone of future electricity systems. It will be met not only by traditional sources of flexibility – such as conventional power plants and electricity grids – but also by new sources of flexibility, including battery storage and demand-side response, which are projected to grow fast and contribute 400 GW by 2040.