Grid Integration Of Renewables – Global Trends

A stocktake of 176 renewables integration projects from around the world reveals some clear trends.
Published: Tue 14 Oct 2014

Recognizing the challenge and opportunity of the integration of renewables for renewables development, and to guide its investment decisions, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has developed a central repository of such projects completed, underway or in planning around the world.

The project stocktake, which was compiled by consultants Marchment Hill and VaasaETT, measured projects for inclusion against 14 economic/commercial and technical objectives and comprises 176 projects. Of these 116 projects are from Australia and the remainder from 21 countries across the globe, from Brazil to China.

Trends in renewables integration

From analysis of the projects collected in the stocktake, a general view is that the development of renewable integration and ICT integration goes hand-in-hand. Although projects from different countries and regions are focusing on tackling their specific domestic or local renewable integration problems, some commonalities are apparent.

These include:

● Making the process of integrating renewable energy into the grid more cost-efficient. Examples of such projects include the Isernia Smart Grid project by Enel Distribuzione and the Optimal deployment of renewable resources in a distribution network project by Monash University.

● Creating new business models to cater to the shift to a network with high levels of distributed energy resources. Examples are the Business Model Implementation project by Ergon Energy and a Redeployable Hybrid Power project by Laing O'Rourke.

● Measuring or quantifying the benefits and costs of renewable energy. Examples are the Future Grid Forum and the Hybrid concentrating solar thermal systems for large scale applications project, both by CSIRO.

● Strengthening the network to manage higher renewable energy penetration. Examples are the King Island Renewable Energy Integration Project by Hydro Tasmania and AusGrid’s Smart Grid, Smart City project.

Some other objectives are less well-addressed: notably, projects to do with storing and organizing information on customer renewable energy deployments are less than a third as common as those to do with cost efficiency.

Objectives of renewables integration

The Australian projects scored marginally higher than international ones on Economic/Commercial objectives. In explanation for this, many projects refer to the differing regulatory arrangements, economic conditions and industry structures that exist amongst countries. On Technical objectives, the Australian and international projects scored on average the same.

The most commonly reported results relate to the voltage problems caused by high penetrations of solar PV on existing distribution networks, and the means through which these issues can be addressed. However, the details of these in the database managed to resolve this problem in a variety of ways, under differing conditions.

Updates to this first stocktake will be undertaken by the Energy Networks Association in late 2014 and 2015.

Further reading

ARENA: Integrating Renewables into the Grid: Stocktake project