Joint Energy Community – IRENA workshop prepares Contracting Parties for grid integration of variable renewables

Renewable energy
7 November 2018

Today’s workshop organized jointly by the Energy Community and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) was able to capture the key challenges and opportunities linked with the grid integration of variable renewable energy sources, like wind or solar. The workshop identified the current and future energy trends, concluding that a complete transformation of the power sector is inevitable with the expected large-scale deployment of renewables. Coordinated early planning for a system with a higher share of renewable energy could avoid making costly investment mistakes.   

International and European best practices were shared with respect to long-term system planning, creating a new, renewables-friendly market design and balancing options, including digital applications like blockchain, sector coupling and energy storage. Participants were able to explore the topic from all angles, hearing the perspective of regulators, transmission system operators, energy companies, academics and other energy experts.

The increase of renewables is a unique chance for decarbonisation but also for emancipation of new players, corporate and household, in a largely state-dominated environment. To understand and to tackle the multiple challenges in a way the transition turns into a success, we need to explore new forms of working together with all stakeholders on national and international level”, said Deputy Director Dirk Buschle in his opening remarks.  

Dolf Gielen, Director of IRENA’s Innovation and Technology Centre, added: “Today’s workshop clearly showed the wide-spread interest of Southeast Europe to further explore the deployment of variable renewables like solar PV and wind. By supporting countries in their development of capacities at technical, regulatory and operational level, the integration of variable renewables into power systems can be accelerated. Accelerating the deployment of renewable energy can offer enormous socio-economic benefits to the region, including the development of new value chains, job creation and improved livelihoods.”

The workshop also informed the Contracting Parties about the new approach to the treatment of renewables under the EU’s Clean Energy Package. The new legal regime will give more weight to market principles, including the competitive selection process for renewables support. Renewables will have to become balance responsible and priority dispatch will be limited to small-scale installations. On the other hand, the integration of renewable energy will be fostered by renewables-friendly short-term markets and increased cross-border integration.

The workshop took place back-to-back with the meeting of the Energy Community Renewable Energy Coordination Group on 6 November. The meeting provided the latest information with respect to the Contracting Parties’ progress in fulfilling their 2020 renewables targets, as unveiled in the Secretariat’s Implementation Report 2018, launched last week. Contracting Parties were asked to step up efforts to boost the uptake of renewables, as an overall 4 percent gap was identified between current progress according to the latest statistical data 2016 and the 2020 target.