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Organised by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and the IEA, the Global Ministerial Conference on System Integration of Renewables was attended by high-ranking officials. (Photograph: IEA)

The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and the International Energy Agency (IEA) convened a one-day ministerial conference in Berlin this week to share best practices and innovative ideas to fully grasp the opportunities of wind and solar.

The IEA noted in a statement that the Global Ministerial Conference on System Integration of Renewables was attended by high-ranking officials and industry CEOs, including Ministers, Deputy Ministers and State Secretaries from the countries of Sweden, Thailand, Japan, Morocco, Poland, Switzerland and the US.

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The conference was co-chaired by Peter Altmaier, the German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, and Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director.

“Germany’s energy transition rests on three pillars: expansion of solar and wind energy, digitalisation in the energy sector and sector coupling. We want 65% of our electricity to be renewables-based by 2030,” said Altmaier. “The use of renewable energy is growing everywhere around the world. It will therefore become ever more important for us to engage in cross-border cooperation to share and discuss best practices with other countries.”

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Dr Birol said: “Wind and solar are critical pillars of the world’s efforts to tackle climate change, reduce air pollution and provide energy access to all. Their declining costs are a huge opportunity.

“But power systems need to become more flexible and market designs must be adapted in order to avoid unintended impacts on electricity security.”

The IEA has been working on system integration for almost 15 years and is expanding its efforts. In particular, it is preparing a major new study on electricity security to help countries to better manage the impact of energy transitions, guard against new cybersecurity threats and develop resilience to extreme natural events.

Renewable electricity is a key driver of clean energy transitions. After stalling last year, global capacity additions of renewable power are set to bounce back with double-digit growth in 2019, driven by solar PV’s strong performance, to reach almost 200GW.

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But more will be needed to reach long-term climate and sustainable energy goals. Renewable capacity additions need to increase by more than 300GW on average each year between 2018 and 2030 to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement, according to the IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario. Wind and solar account for 80% of that growth.

Renewable capacity additions need to increase by more than 300GW on average each year between 2018 and 2030 to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement, according to the IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario. Wind and solar account for 80% of that growth.

Unlocking this potential will require governments to set out the right frameworks to handle these growing shares. That means long-term planning in which the design of grids and markets fully takes account of the shifting landscape.

The IEA noted that as of today, 25 countries have 10% variable renewable electricity in their mix. Several countries have committed to long-term targets for very high shares of renewables or even full reliance on these sources.

By 2030, more than 50 countries will have reached wind and solar electricity levels of 10%. Germany is already moving towards more than 50% by that year, and the European Union aspires to reach 35%.

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These ambitions mean current system integration ideas need scaling up from successful pilots to clear legislative programs that ensure effective uptake of renewable sources in line with global energy and climate ambitions.

The conference highlighted that these efforts need to fit into wider all-energy strategies that consider economic sectors affected by energy transitions, as put forward in Germany’s recent Climate Action Law proposal, for example.

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The IEA continues to take a leading role in supporting global energy transitions through data, expert insights and clear policy advice, taking all technologies and sectors into account.