Tesla’s giant battery in Australia, high-tech weather forecasting in Germany and a Scottish island’s wind-to-hydrogen system are among the innovations helping plug variable wind and solar into wider power systems, says a new report.
The trio are among dozens mapped by the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) in its Innovation Landscape for a Renewable-Powered Future study, which says integrating variable renewables – subject to peaks and troughs depending on wind and sun – into networks is crucial to the fight against climate change.
The success of the 100MW Tesla battery, co-located with the Hornsdale wind farm in South Australia, has spurred deployment of similar systems to help smooth supplies into the country’s grid, said Irena.
The study also points to advanced weather forecasting underway in Germany, including the EWeLiNE system which combines meterological data with real-time output information from wind and solar arrays in the country.
In Scotland it highlights the success of the Surf ‘n’ Turf initiative on Orkney, which converts excess power produced by the island’s wind and tidal plants into hydrogen that is exported via ship.
A 'reverse demand response' scheme by an Arizona utility to shift excess solar power to consumers, for free use for electric vehicle charging, or to power web-connected 'smart appliances' such as dishwashers, represents an innovative approach to curtailment reduction, said Irena.
Irena claimed meeting the Paris climate goals will need an 85% share of renewables in the global power mix by 2050, with variable sources accounting for 60% of all electricity generated.
The EU is currently the leading region for integrating variable renewables, with a bloc-wide 15% share in total generation, but much higher in pacesetters such as Denmark.
“The region’s success shows us that innovation is creating an energy transformation that is technically feasible and economically attractive,” said Irena director general Adnan Amin.