Publication: Transmitting Renewable Energy to the Grid
Jordan, Rhonda Lenai
Many countries are scaling up their investments in renewable energy. In 2010, electricity production from renewable sources - wind, solar, biomass, biofuels, geothermal, hydropower, and ocean energy accounted for 18 percent of global electricity supply. By early 2011, renewables made up a quarter of all installed power capacity. One of the main obstacles to the scale-up of renewable energy is connecting generating sites to the grid in an efficient manner. Renewable energy places greater demands on the transmission network than do conventional energy sources. First, the richest sites for solar and wind energy is often spread across multiple locations far from consumption centers or existing transmission networks. Second, generation is subject to variability in climate conditions (such as wind speed and solar radiation). This note focuses on the transmission implications of the dispersion of renewable energy sources, rather than on the implications of variability. In some sub regions of the United States and countries in Europe that are pursuing renewable energy options, the requirements for investment in transmission already approved by regulators (or forecasted by transmission companies) are double or quadruple recent investment trends. In Brazil the investment needs for renewable energy in some regions surpass the asset value of the distribution utilities closest to the renewable sites.
“Madrigal, Marcelino; Jordan, Rhonda Lenai. 2014. Transmitting Renewable Energy to the Grid. Live Wire, 2014/1. © World Bank, Washington, DC. http://hdl.handle.net/10986/17139 License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.”
Other publications in this report series
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PublicationTransmitting Renewable Energy to the Grid : The Case of Texas(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2014-02-24)The note is based on original work by Marcelino Madrigal and Steven Stoft, "Transmission Expansion for Renewable Energy Scale-Up: Emerging Lessons and Recommendations". Texas leads the United States with 9,528 MW of installed wind power capacity, a level exceeded by only four countries. The state needed more infrastructure to transmit electricity generated from renewable sources, but the regulator could not approve transmission expansion projects in the absence of financially committed generators. To solve the problem, Texas devised a planning process that quickly connects energy systems to the transmission system. The system is based on the designation of competitive renewable energy zones.
PublicationTransmitting Renewable Energy to the Grid : The Case of Brazil(World Bank, 2014-02-24)Brazil has one of the world's cleanest energy portfolios, with 85.3 percent of overall energy production coming from renewable sources (compared with the worldwide average of 16 percent), and with 75 percent of the country's 105,000 megawatt (MW) installed generation capacity coming from hydropower plants alone. The country has improved its procedures for building new energy facilities and connecting them to the grid. The distribution companies in the zone where transmission services were needed lacked the personnel to plan network expansion. In addition, in certain cases, the network needs of the renewable energy providers requesting transmission services dwarfed in size and capital cost the entire existing distribution network in the area. To address the challenges of planning and paying for the transmission infrastructure needed to bring energy from renewable sources to the grid, Brazil devised a competitive process to develop shared transmission networks for renewable energy. The procurement process provides transparency that helps reveal the cost of efficiently delivering infrastructure, supports a realistic and sustainable pricing structure, and creates an environment for both generation and transmission that is attractive to the private sector.
PublicationTransmitting Renewable Energy to the Grid : The Case of Mexico(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2014-02-24)Mexico's 2010 national energy strategy aims to promote sustainability and simultaneously increase energy access by increasing the share of renewable resources used to generate energy. The wind farms of La Ventosa, a windy area in the southeastern state of Oaxaca, are a key part of that strategy, which aims to raise the share of renewables in generation to 35 percent by 2024, up from 23.7 percent in 2008. The open season process was a major breakthrough that made possible several agreements to build wind power generation projects in an area that previously had been closed to development because of the lack of transmission infrastructure. The open season process gave developers of renewable energy the certainty and predictability they needed concerning the development of transmission infrastructure, while also reducing the investment costs of that infrastructure by ensuring development of an optimized and shared network. Moreover, the system is transparent for all participants. It highlights the ability of Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE) to modernize its role as a facilitator and creative problem solver, and encourages renewable energy developers and energy consumers to collaborate and follow through on their commitments for the benefit of all involved.
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