Sunday, May 22, 2016

Event - Innovation Day: The Age of Renewable Energy

This event will take place on May 26, 2016 in Abu Dhabi the United Arab Emirates. In conjunction with IRENA’s eleventh council meeting, Innovation Day is intended to highlight the results of IRENA Innovation Week, which took place earlier this month in Bonn, Germany. The one-day event in Abu Dhabi will also offers an opportunity for input on IRENA’s planned Renewable Energy Innovation Landscape report. Two technology case studies will be presented and discussed. The Agency will also seek strategic guidance from its member-countries on its work related to innovation.

Falling technology costs, mounting investments and renewable energy capacity additions outpacing nuclear and fossil energy are all signals that the global transition towards a renewable power sector is underway. To accelerate this growth, electricity systems worldwide must transition to frameworks that embrace new business models and promote the deployment of innovative technologies.

IRENA’s Innovation Week is a first-of-its-kind event gathering the industrial and political frontrunners to present, discuss and explore innovative solutions within this year’s theme – “The Age of Renewable Power”. The focus of discussions will be on how technological innovations, operational innovation and systemic innovations in policy, regulation and business, interact and re-enforce each other.

Deepdive Sessions

The deepdive sessions are designed to allow policy makers and technical experts to discuss the latest developments on specific topics in interactive sessions. The deepdives are facilitated by technical experts through one or more partner organisations, and covers the latest developments, key players, opportunities and barriers, and expectations.

1. The Future Grid

This deepdive session will introduce the participants to the latest developments of grid infrastructure network technologies to support a transition towards renewables, including the manufacturing, designs, infrastructure materials and protection of grid systems. The session will focus on both, electric power transmission and distribution, and it will cover onshore high voltage, low voltage as well as offshore solutions. It will provide an overview on the different relevance innovations of cabling in the context of power sector transformation and will discuss the latest developments in mini-and microgrids, their functionalities and applications to support renewable energy deployment. Panel discussions will discuss innovative applications and strive to provide clarity and understanding to the economics of this increasingly growing market segment.

Co-organisers: ABB and Siemens

2. Energy Systems Modelling and Planning

This deepdive session will provide an overview of the latest development in the latest techniques and tools for energy systems modelling to support energy planning in the power sector transformation. Modelling experts will provide an overview and practical examples of how their techniques and tools can be used to envision the technical challenges and opportunities associated with high shares of renewable energy, and explore the potential impacts of and needs for innovative solutions. Following on this discussion, the deepdive session will provide an overview of the developments in data availability for energy planning, the different planning methodologies available, insights on their usage to support the power sector transformation, as well as feedback from users on their experience and future expectations for energy planning methods.

Co-organisers: German Aerospace Center (DLR), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), and Siemens

3. From Science to Patents to Business Applications

This deepdive session will examine the process from science to technology development to actual business applications. The session will start with some experiences from successful RD&D projects, followed by discussion led by the European Patent Office (EPO) on the role of patents as an innovation-support mechanism. The EPO will also show how the wealth of information contained in patent documents can be used to elicit key global trends in the development and dissemination of RE technologies as well as investigate the increasing role of software and computers in spurring power sector transformation. Finally, the session will touch upon the growing importance of patents in the standards development process in Renewable Energy technologies. Particular examples on how knowledge and patents from science institutions can be used to support innovations in renewable energy technologies.

Co-organisers: European Patent Office (EPO) and European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN)

4. Energy Storage and Electric Vehicles

This deepdive will introduce the current status and future outlook of energy storage systems for renewables deployment and electric vehicles, including their usage for balancing or grid stabilization services to support the integration of variable renewable energy. The combination of renewable energy technologies plus electricity storage for islands systems and rural electrification will also be discussed. Additionally, an overview will be given regarding the similarities and differences in the institutional regime governing the introduction of electric vehicles in different countries. The session will also provide some case studies and practical examples to demonstrate the energy storage and electric vehicles to support the integration of renewable energy.

Co-organisers: German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)

5. New Market Designs

This deepdive session will discuss the relationship between regulation, associated market designs and the impacts of renewable power on existing and future business models for renewable energy deployment in the electricity sector. Topics that will be covered are the impact of zero marginal costs systems on business models, the impact of different market designs on the deployment and transition towards renewable energy systems, the impact of renewables on risk profiles for both old and new business models, the opportunities arising through the digitalization of the electricity sector, the regulatory conditions required to ensure both flexibility and predictability, and the policy conditions needed to allow for experimentation. Specific case studies of innovative regulation and market designs and associated examples of new business models will be provided.

Co-organisers: Renewables Grid Initiative

6. Advancing the Frontiers of Reliability and Quality

This deepdive session will present the latest developments from suppliers of renewable power generation technologies, namely wind and solar photovoltaic, to enable the integration of those technologies into existing power systems. Experts will introduce the state-of-the-art solutions for grid integration aspects, such as frequency and voltage control, power quality, behaviour during grid faults, provision of (synthetic) inertia to the system, followed by a discussion of the role of metrology, conformity assessment and standardization infrastructure to support and accelerate the deployment of renewable power. Specific examples of quality infrastructure and control systems will be provided.

Co-organisers: International Electrotechnical Committee (IEC) and German National Metrology Institute (PTB)

Group Discussions

The in-focus group discussions will take place following the daily plenary sessions. The group discussions are organised for policy makers which aim to identify the relevant innovation, priorities for policy support, and international cooperation opportunities for a particular country. Each group discussion will take about 1,5 hour and will be led by one or more group leader representing the constituency.

The delegates can choose between five parallel groups, each representing a group of countries with similar country characteristics determining their opportunities and barriers. The five groups of constituencies are as follows:

1. Decentralised electricity systems for islands and rural electrification

This group will discuss the relevance of different innovations and associated international cooperation activities for transitioning electricity systems towards renewable energy in small, isolated islands and off-grid systems from tens of kWs up to 1 GW. Specific focus will be on innovations available to transform electricity systems dominated by diesel generators to renewable energy based systems, including the associated systemic changes needed. Other key aspects that will be considered in this group are innovations in renewable power generation technologies relevant for islands and remote areas, innovations to support mini- and microgrids development, flexibility options to integrate variable renewable energy in constrained systems, innovations to extend the main grid to connect remote areas, and innovations to support economic development and productive uses based on electricity access. Furthermore, this session will examine the policy implications of these systemic, technological, and operational innovations, including their impact on regulatory regimes, their impact on the role of residential and commercial electricity consumers, and their wider socio-economic and environmental implications.

2. Emerging electricity systems with high demand growth

This group will discuss the relevance of different innovations and of international cooperation in meeting growing electricity demand and expanding generation capacity and grid infrastructure. The group will focus on innovations available to support and manage the rapid expansion of renewables to satisfy growing electricity demand, opportunities to leapfrog to the most modern grid infrastructures, as well as innovative governance structures to manage the pathway towards renewables-based electricity systems. The group will also cover countries where electricity systems are already reliant on hydroelectricity, and how these countries can continue to expand their systems with other renewable energy sources.. One of the focus areas will be on innovations available to explore renewable energy resources most effectively, either locally or through regional collaboration, and to develop a portfolio of renewable power generation technologies to continue to meet the growing demand, and ensure reliability, affordability and security. The policy implications and policy needs of different development pathways will be examined, including how their impacts can be anticipated in existing policy frameworks. The wider implications of a power sector transformation on economic and industrial development will also be examined, including potential synergies from innovations. International cooperation opportunities among emerging electricity systems will be discussed, including the differences and/or similarities with mature electricity systems.

3. Mature electricity systems with low demand growth

This group will explore the renewable energy innovations and international cooperation in the context of mature electricity systems with low growth in electricity demand. Key aspects to be considered are the innovations related to the integration of high share of variable renewable energy into existing systems, as well as innovations to support sector-coupling between the electricity sector and the heat sector, electricity uses in transport, industrial applications, and residential and commercial buildings. Specific emphasis will be paid on the implications of new renewable power generation capacity on existing utilities with conventional power generation technologies, and how different systemic, technological and operational innovations can be used to ensure a smooth transition. Existing and future opportunities for collaboration on research, development, and demonstration projects will be examined, and how these can be matched with relevant innovation needs in other constituencies.


Innovations do not happen in a vacuum, but rather feed into one another. Technology innovations allow for innovations in business models and operational practices, whilst ambitious and innovative policies and regulation can trigger new technical and operational innovations.

The plenary session allow a platform for innovation leaders to share their expectations on innovative solutions for the power sector transformation. The sessions are designed to provide a holistic perspective on innovation, and examine how developments in policies, business models, regulation, operations, and technologies interact and can reinforce each other.

1. Renewables for Growth

More than 90% of the growth in future electricity demand will occur in non-OECD countries. In the panel discussion on “Renewables for Growth”, IRENA has invited high-level government officials to share their vision on the opportunities and challenges they foresee in deploying renewables to satisfy future demand, and which technological, operational, and systemic innovations are needed to address any problems or enable these opportunities.

2. Utilities of the Future

In “Utilities of the Future”, representatives from utilities, transmission and distribution network operators, and technology providers from across the electricity sector will be asked to share their view on how renewables may change the future of the electricity system, and what impact it may have on technology needs, operational practices, business models, regulatory frameworks and policy development.

3. Systemic Innovation

Systemic innovation covers major institutional changes needed in the governance structures, business and finance models, and regulatory regimes that determine the day-to-day practices of utilities and technology providers operating in the electricity sector.

This plenary session will provide an overview of innovative policy solutions for both centralized and distributed power systems, the impact of renewables on existing and emerging business models, as well as expectations on how regulatory regimes will have to be changed to accommodate or allow for new practices and stakeholders to engage in the electricity sector.

4. Technological Innovation

Technologies continue to involve in terms of costs, performance, and functionality. The introduction of information- and telecommunication technologies into electricity systems add another layer of new opportunities.

This plenary discussion will cover the latest developments and future expectations for technology development in renewable power generation technologies, smart grids and energy storage, including their impacts on the future costs, reliability and security of electricity systems in centralised and distributed systems.

5. Operational Innovation

The rapid growth of variable renewable power generation from solar photovoltaics and wind power is changing the traditional paradigm of linear power flows from dispatchable centralised power stations or diesel generators to the local consumers. At the same time, smart grid technologies and a more pro-active role of consumers are allowing for new ways to manage these power flows.

The plenary session will discuss the latest innovations in control options to support and integrate the variable production of electricity from solar and wind resources, the new opportunities provided by smart grid technologies to manage these power flows, and the opportunities and challenges arising from the participation of end-consumers in the electricity sector.

6. Closing Session

In the closing session, representatives from the group discussion will be presenting the results of their deliberations regarding the relevance of and policy needs for different systemic, technological, and operational innovations within their specific countries.

The differences and similarities between innovation and policy needs in the different countries will be used to prepare and propose a global action agenda for international cooperation on innovations for the age of renewable power.

Click here for the schedule

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