Welcome to the weekly roundup from the Oxford Martin Programme on Integrating Renewable Energy.
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Clean energy around the globe

A new report published this week shows that wave energy has the potential to contribute to 10% of global electricity demand by 2050. The report, from UK-based Marine Power Systems (MPS), calls on the wave energy industry to push for a 10% target and calls for financial and political support to make this goal a reality. Within the European market, the UK is currently the leader on wave energy with 35% of Europe’s wave energy generation potential. The UK is also rich in wind resources, and onshore wind capacity in Northern Ireland recently passed the 1GW mark and is now providing a quarter of Northern Ireland’s power.
As solar power becomes one of the cheapest and most viable sources of clean energy, Canadian mining companies are looking to cash in by supplying the primary resources needed to build solar panels. According to a report from Clean Energy Canada, the country’s abundance of raw minerals, including lead, zinc, gold, and copper, will see it benefit from the continued growth of solar power around the world, especially as 14 of the 19 mineral products needed to create PV panels are found or produced in Canada.  

Thirteen leading players in Europe’s energy sector have launched an initiative aimed at eliminating subsidies for high-emission power technologies. The Make Power Clean group, which includes fossil fuel and renewable energy companies such as Siemens, Shell, Statoil, Total, and others, is urging the European Commission and Parliament to stop giving state aid to high-emission power plants.
California is on the leading edge of finding ways to value and manage the growth of clean energy technologies installed in homes and businesses. These technologies include rooftop solar, battery storage, electric vehicles, and more. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is kicking off the next phase of the process to value these resources in utility resource planning, which is part of a larger, ongoing Distributed Energy Resources Action Plan.
In the US, despite a push for community solar and shared renewables policies in recent years, only 102MW of community solar have been developed nationwide. Effective programme design is thus key in helping community solar live up to its potential, and early adopters such as Minnesota, Massachusetts, Colorado, and California can provide insights into proper implementation and best practices for deployment of community solar programmes.

Energy storage

The New York state legislature approved a bill recently to establish an Energy Storage Deployment Program, which passed both chambers of the legislature unanimously. The bill will direct the Public Service Commission (PSC) to develop an Energy Storage Deployment Program, including a storage procurement target for 2030.
Companies are increasingly turning to intelligent energy storage solutions to reduce emissions, increase energy efficiency and enable renewable energy. Hybrid Energy Storage Systems (HESS) — an energy efficient storage alternative — have gained media attention of late due to their advantages, which include lower cost, increased system efficiency, increased system lifetime due to optimized operation, and the ability to do more and last longer with less overall storage capacity.
While the concept of large-scale energy storage has some significant barriers to widespread adoption, many of these shortcomings have been resolved within the past few years. According to Bloomberg’s New Energy Outlook 2016, the global energy storage market is expected to skyrocket to $250 billion by 2040. Instead of trying to convince the general public of the importance of modern energy storage, many utility companies are now focused on optimizing their grids to support long-term efforts.

Smart grids and electric vehicles

A team of students at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) just unveiled an electric car that seats five and is completely powered by the sun. Called Stella Vie, the vehicle is more efficient than solar cars that have come before it. Even with fewer solar panels on its roof, the car is capable of a range of about 1,000 kilometres (621 miles) on a warm summer day. The vehicle also features a smart charging and discharging system that keeps track of energy prices and daily use to find the best time to recharge and discharge.
A new study has found that a move toward a smarter electricity network regulation would improve reliability, reduce emissions, and cut power bills for consumers. The Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney published the new Demand Management Incentives Review and found that the current regulatory framework favours investing in network infrastructure, such as new poles and wires, over smart alternatives such as demand management that involve energy providers helping consumers to reduce their power demand and bills.
One of the key factors to success for distribution utilities is digital transformation. Within distribution utilities this addresses two main objectives: Firstly, it aids in the integration of distributed energy resources, both behind and above-metered energy assets such as rooftop solar, behind-the-meter batteries, and flexible demand-side resources. Secondly, it is important for addressing evolving energy demand, reducing losses, ensuring security and reliability, and changing business models.
One of the reasons utilities must consider shifting business models and undertaking digital transformations is because of the global growth of decentralised microgrids. A new study by Navigant Research identified 1,842 microgrid projects totalling 19,279.4MW of capacity for projects operating, under development, or proposed. The study added 173 new projects from the year before. The commercial and industrial segment saw strong growth with more than 2GW added.
In Illinois, a Smart Grid for Schools program conducted by Illinois State University (ISU) is helping area teachers and students learn about new smart grid technology being implemented across the state. The program is free to schools because of a $450,000 grant to ISU from the Illinois Science and Energy Innovation Foundation.

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