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October 2019

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Renewable growth drives common goals for electricity networks across the globe

Charlotte Nelson
17 October 2019

Across the globe, electricity networks are experiencing significant growth in renewable capacity as countries seek to decarbonise their power sectors without impacting the security of supply. The scale and the rapid nature of this change are creating a whole new set of challenges for the power networks.

Our latest insight paper – Market design amidst global energy transitiondelves deeper into this issue. As a pre-eminent energy research, consulting and market intelligence business that operates in Australia, Great Britain (GB) and Ireland, we have analysed the outlook for transmission networks amid the changing landscape, and how legacy design and policies are shaping each countires system today.

Discussing the insight paper Gareth Miller, CEO of Cornwall Insight, said: “Despite differences in market design and characteristics, all three markets are grappling with similar issues, that comes from committing to deep decarbonisation. This includes the most appropriate methods for charging for networks, managing access to them and dealing with issues such as network congestion and constraint.”

Renewable projects are often in isolated locations away from demand centers. However, as renewable growth is set to continue “the networks will need to transition from being demand-centric to more supply orientated”, Gareth said.

The main priority in Australia is to enhance transmission capacity and network efficiency. Without this, the transmission system will be a barrier to growth for decentralised flexibility and renewables.

In contrast, GB and Ireland benefit from interconnection with other national markets. This provides them with additional levers that can be pulled to manage system security and supply. However, they are still trying to hone and optimise network flexibility in light of steepening decarbonisation objectives.

In all three markets, unit charges are rising, driven by a reduced charging base as decentralised energy grows quickly. This combination of changes is leading to network congestion, as transmission network development struggles to keep up, and flexibility markets are being optimised and changed.

The fast nature and the size of the renewable growth across all the countries examined will see both system operators and stakeholders  needing to “continually evaluate” the market structures and designs to alleviate issues.

All the markets are at very different stages in the process in trying to improve any problems, but reforms are on-going to accommodate the rapid physical transformation of the generation mix.

Although each country has its objectives and tensions, they are reflective of the broader global reforms that are being undertaken in most developed liberalised and decarbonising energy markets. It is clear that they “could all learn from each other and elements of their network arrangements.”

To download the insight paper for free, please click here.

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