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Innovation and flexibility for the integration of VRE

05 April 2019

Variable renewable energies (VRE) present technical challenges of integration in the generation mix, due to their intermittency. The FLEXIBILITY of the electrical system and the INNOVATION are presented as key solutions.

In previous articles we alluded to the necessary synergy between the two forms of solar energy: photovoltaic and STE, both present in the services portfolio of Grupo T-Solar. Added the wind energy, we will have the two sources (sun and wind) that will constitute, basically, the presence of the renewables in the electricity generation mix of the future.

It may be due to the significant decrease in its manufacturing costs, its long-term sustainability or its lack of contribution to CO2 levels that investors invest are trusting this type of energy more every day.

Logically, it will be about the technologies of these different devices placing themeselves, getting more flexible accounting between their contribution capacities (offer) and their demands for income in the network (consumption), rationalizing their distribution and transport systems, synchronizing schedules ( see hourly synchronization between STE and photovoltaic in article 11/03/19) and meteorological environments, decentralizing as far as possible their poles of generation (self-consumption), in short, incorporating innovation to the variability of renewables (VRE) and maximizing its operation .

INNOVATION AND FLEXIBILITY are the two key terms for the future of these energies.

According to IRENA 2019, in its Report, four will be the areas (dimensions) where new (INNOVATION) solutions will be sought to the different problems that affect VRE FLEXIBILITY, maximizing its operability.

  1. Enabling technologies
  2. Business models
  3. Market designs
  4. System operation


A SUMMARY REPORT is also available:

VRE: renewable that can not be sent or dispatched, depending on the nature (weather conditions) that provide them: solar and wind. They would not be or would not have the denomination VRE, the conventional hydroelectricity, the biomass and the geothermal that can be sent or dispatched completely.

A greater participation of solar wind energies, an increase of the flexibility and a reduction of the costs of the system are proposed as solutions, trying to improve the flexibility of the energy sector (in general).

Regarding VRE (variable renewable), electrification, decentralization and digitalization are the leading innovation trends that are proposed to transform the system's FLEXIBILITY for renewable variables

Electrification: "When the generation of renewable energy is abundant or surplus, the electrification of end-use sectors is an emerging solution to maintain its value, reduce its resistance and, more importantly, help decarbonize heating and transportation. "

Decentralization: "The growing deployment of distributed energy resources makes the consumer an active participant in the energy market, which allows a greater management on the demand side".

Digitization: "Digital technologies can support the integration of VRE through faster response, better asset management, device connection, data collection and exchange."

The aforementioned IRENA Report "Innovation landscape for a renewable-powered future: solutions to integrate variable renewables" also proposes 30 innovations, to be distributed among the four areas or dimensions mentioned above: enabling technologies, business models, market designs and system operation.

Among them stand out:

8. Blockchain: an enabling technology for "smart contracts" that improve the intelligence, transparency and automation of the system.

12. Aggregators: a new business model to optimize the use of distributed energy resources (DER).

22. Time-of-use tariffs: a market design innovation that saves customers money and strengthens the overall energy system.

25. The future role of distribution system operators (DSO): a system operation innovation that drives the generation and consumption of local energy.

11 solutions are also proposed (not to be confused with the 11 innovations corresponding to the scope or dimension of the enabling technologies), also innovative solutions, which show how the synergies between them (VRE) allow the production, transmission and consumption of energy to be more flexible, simultaneously improving their profitability.

The report that we have been examining can be considered a continuation of the text "Providing all global energy with wind, water, and solar power, Part II Reliability, system and transmission costs, and policies" in Energy Policy 39 (2011) 1170-1190, Mark A. Delucchi and Mark Z. Jacobson, which lists seven ways to design and operate variable renewable energy (VRE) systems. The text above shows how we understand WWS (by VRE).

Interconnect geographically dispersed naturally variable energy sources (e.g., wind, solar, wave, and tidal),
Use a non- variable energy source, such as hydroelectric power, to fill temporary gaps between demand and wind or solar generation.
Use ‘‘smart’’ demand-response management to shift flexible loads to better match the availability of WWS power.
Store electric power, at the site of generation, for later use.
over-size WWS peak generation capacity to minimize the times when available WWS power is less than demand and to provide spare power to produce hydrogen for flexible transportation and heat uses.
store electric power in electric-vehicle batteries..
Forecast the weather to plan for energy supply needs better.

One of the objectives of the report that we have examined briefly, is to support informed decision-making on the best solutions for each energy system. It follows the urgent need for formation/information in innovative solutions for managers and employees of the companies in the field (integration of the VRE).

"Digital transformation has revolutionized traditional trade and ways of doing business" "Digital Business has transformed traditional strategies and these have had to adapt to the digital world" are headlines that we read on the Next International Business School website 

One more sign that Grupo T-Solar remains at the forefront of Training in Innovation and Digital Environments is, finally, a tweet from our CEO, Marta Martínez Queimadelos, after completing a Digital Business course:

"Completed a training that makes my commitment to maintain stronger the company I lead, Grupo T-Solar, attentive to what is happening and with the firm will to keep its eyes on the future and on continuous improvement. Also thank the entire team of The Valley Digital Business and the members of this training for the great teamwork, talent and knowledge and innovation that help prepare people for the new environment ".

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