By Marco Aw
The growth for renewable energy is “unstoppable”, said Mr Adnan Z. Amin, Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) during his keynote at the Singapore Energy Summit: Integrating Renewables.
In 2016, more than half of net additional global generation capacity, or 161 gigawatts (GW), came from renewables.
Even traditional and established oil and gas producers are pursuing renewable energy. China is set to invest US$360 billion in renewables by 2020, while Russia and Saudi Arabia have launched roadmaps to develop their renewable energy potential.
Meanwhile, corporate investment in renewable energy has reached US$25 billion since 2010 – led by the likes of Apple, Google and Microsoft.
Ms Christiana Figueres, former head of the UN Climate Change Convention, called for “concerted efforts” across investment, financing, policy and regulation to enable and integrate renewables energies.
This will help promote a “secure and robust” environment for investment, cost reduction and market designs that will allow further penetration of renewables, she said during a panel discussion.
One country that has embarked on this is India; it has built the world’s largest power grid.
Mr Gireesh B. Pradhan, Chairman of the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) of India, said that the government is taking action in building an enabling environment to scale up the role of renewables. This includes efforts in areas such as land costs, payment security and technology development.
Regulators will be key to ensure the integration of renewable energy as more players participate in the grid, he added. Challenges they have to address include scheduling, forecasting, and maintaining reserves level of electricity.
An alternative approach is to “think of renewables as the cheapest energy” and begin grid planning from that perspective, said Mr Jon Moore, CEO of Bloomberg New Energy Finance. This will help in better identifying and addressing the gaps.
The panellists added that gas and nuclear are viable options as the challenges and gaps in integrating renewables are being addressed – most notably in overcoming issues of intermittency.