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The domination of variable renewables in global electricity generation is a long way off, according to Dolf Gielen, Director of Innovation and Technology at the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

The majority of fossil fuels today are directly used for heating and cooling buildings, transportation and industrial processes and feedstocks. Increasing the share of electricity in final energy use is critical and opens up an important avenue for accelerated deployment of renewable energy, Gielen explains in an interview with European Utility Week.

“On a global scale, solar and wind account for around 10% of power generation. There is still a long way to go before variable renewables dominate global electricity generation.

"As indicated in our recent analysis for the European Union, Europe is leading the way and has made great progress in terms of power system flexibility but also here scarcity pricing of electricity, smart equipment that responds to such prices is still lacking. Power market design needs to evolve as well.”

He explained that price signals need to reflect new market conditions and encourage resources to provide flexibility.

“This needs to be a joint-venture between the utility industry, regulators and government as it entails incentives to encourage flexible behaviour on the supply side and dynamic rates on the demand side, together with changing regulatory framework that rewards distribution system operators for their performance as opposed to energy sales,” Gielen said.

When asked about renewable technology trends and advancements to be aware of, he highlighted that offshore wind was one to watch.

“Offshore wind with floating foundations are remarkable and could have profound implications for the future of European electricity supply.”

Biogas and hybrid-generation units combining solar PV and hydro were also on his radar in terms of commercial clean power opportunities.

Dolf Gielen will be presenting at the European Utility Week (EUW) Summit in November during the Session: Managing a High Renewable System.

This story was originally featured by our sister publication ESI-Africa.com