Power system planning to scale up renewable energy uptake, IRENA


The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) issued its latest whitepaper discussing proven processes and regulatory practices for long-term power system planning to expand renewable power in emerging economies.

IRENA used lessons learnt in implementation of the Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) from South Africa and regulated markets in the United States.

The report Insights on planning for power system regulators has two aims:

  • To identify useful regulatory practices in an era of rapidly improving renewable energy technologies;
  • To encourage more effective power system planning in areas of both single and multiple jurisdiction.

Recommendations and best practices provided in the paper focus on ramping up solar and wind energy portfolios.

IRENA says making use of the South African and US case studies would help achieve forecasted renewable energy growth of between 30% and 40% of the globe’s total electricity production by 2030 from 23% in 2026.

To simplify and ensure the success of their renewable energy projects, managers or countries need to reinforce the link between project planning and implementation by:

  • ensuring well-established linkages between the involved institutions
  • using functioning investment facilitation mechanisms to achieve planned outcomes
  • ensuring transparent and inclusive consultation with relevant stakeholders
  • establishing regulatory linkages between power system plans, the subsequent individual component projects that represent the accurate implementation of those plans, and cost recovery of those investments through electricity rates and tariffs
  • linking long-term plans to “action plans”, which describe the specific steps required for implementation over time.

IRENA says developing countries also need to ensure energy regulators are empowered and free from political interference through:

  1. Creation of legal foundations
  2. Creation of sufficient institutional capacity
  3. Ensure transparency and stakeholder involvement
  4. Avoid regulatory capture
  5. Define roles and responsibilities
  6. Review proposals or draft plans
  7. Agree on status and treatment of final plan

Factors included in the IRP and which programme managers or countries need to include in planning their programmes or policies are:

  • Planning entity
  • Planning objectives
  • Coverage and geographical scale
  • Time horizon
  • Updating frequency
  • Stakeholder and public engagement
  • Open access: Data methods and models used
  • Load forecasts, scenario development and establishing need
  • Resources included
  • Resources characteristics and assessment
  • Option and resource portfolio identification and selection
  • Planning with uncertainty
  • Cost allocation and recovery

The whitepaper can be downloaded here…