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May 19, 2016 By Sarah Martin
Renewable energy is growing worldwide, with a six-fold increase in non-hydro renewables over the last decade from 85 GW to 657 GW.
This growth used to be limited to developed countries, but now it is happening in significant numbers in developing countries as well. Last year’s record-high investment in renewable energy—$285.9 billion—was the first time investment in developing countries topped that in developed ones. China, India and Brazil alone accounted for more than half ($156 billion) of that investment commitment.
The shift toward cleaner energy is here. The question is, are we prepared for it?
(Note for figure: By 2012, the level of renewable capacity was already as high as the maximum potential level in 2030 that had been projected by the IEA a few years earlier.)
5 Market Trends Explain Renewables’ Growth:
(Note for Figure: Rise in countries by income group that have enacted Feed-in Tariff (FIT) policies since 2004.)
How These Trends Affect Decision Making
These trends play a role in decision making about the future of electric power, especially in countries like Brazil, China, and India, according to a new report from WRI, Prayas (Energy Group) (PEG), Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP), International Energy Initiative (IEI), and UNISON Group, The Future Electricity Grid: Key Questions and Considerations for Developing Countries. Here are three challenges that bear watching as renewable energy expands:
In some countries such as China, the rapid growth of wind energy has made integration with the grid difficult. In areas of the country where large amounts of wind energy have been added to the grid, variability has caused system-balancing issues. Balancing issues are often dealt with by curtailing portions of wind generation, which means that power grids do not use that power even if wind plants are capable of producing it. In 2015, around 15 percent of wind power was wasted throughout the year. Upgraded, expanded power grids are essential to ensure reliable, high-quality service.
How governments, energy planners, regulators and utilities respond to these trends and monitor these challenges will determine how well they build a future grid to deliver the clean, reliable and affordable power people need to thrive. The time to take action is now.