Renewables, including hydro, now account for over 30% of the total global installed power generation capacity and 23% of total global electricity production. In the past 10 years, wind and solar PV have witnessed an explosive average annual growth of 23% and 50% respectively, although their combined contribution to the global electricity supply is currently only 4%, according to a new report by the World Energy Council launched on 20 September.

The Report entitled Variable Renewables Integration in Electricity Systems 2016 - How to get it right is published by the World Energy Council in partnership with CESI S.p.A. and draws upon 32 country case studies, representing about 90% of installed wind and solar capacity worldwide.

Renewables have become big business: in 2015 a record US$286 billion was invested in 154GW of new renewables capacity (76% in wind and PV), by far overtaking the investment in conventional generation to which 97GW were added.

The report is launched as part of the build up to the 23rd World Energy Congress which will be held between 10 - 13 October in Istanbul. The topic of renewables in the global energy mix and how they will help accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy is one of the key issues on the first day of the Congress.

Key recommendations to address the challenge of sustainable variable renewables integration include:

  • Policymakers must define market rules to ensure a more sustainable energy system in line with the objectives of the Trilemma, including clearly defined CO2 emissions regulations.
  • Introducing capacity markets can help ensure security of supply, as energy-only based markets are often insufficient to guarantee reliable supply in systems with a large share of variable renewables.
  • Weather forecasting methodologies need further development to achieve better accuracy and to rapidly manage the changing nature of wind and sun/variability.