Large-scale deployment of renewable energy asks for a next step in the design of the energy system, which extends to the structure of energy demand sectors. In this project the benefits of an energy systems approach are addressed in a position paper: which policies can be used to establish a further integration of energy demand sectors in the total energy supply system with the objective to maximize the uptake of renewable energy? The paper describes the key challenges that society will face on its road towards a sustainable energy supply.


More deployment of renewable energy technologies (RET) could potentially result in negative side effects like visual or noise impacts, or increased local transport for biomass. The integration of renewables in societies asks for institutional solutions that take the concerns of citizens and other stakeholders seriously. Fortunately, many good practices exist that have demonstrated that renewables can be integrated in the ‘backyards’ of modern societies. The IEA-RETD has prepared a guidebook with many of these institutional solutions. Examples are: stakeholder involvement, -participation and even -compensation, or clear spatial planning and legal procedures that are trusted by all stakeholders. Project developers and both national and local policy makers can learn examples in other countries.

The RETs addressed in the guidebook include: wind energy (onshore and offshore); solar thermal and solar electric energy; biomass and biogas; wave and tidal energy; and geothermal energy. The best practices are described according to the following three dimensions:

  • spatial planning;
  • integration of RETs into the local environment; and
  • stakeholder involvement.

A key to successful RET deployment is proper spatial planning, which balances the many interests surrounding a RET project. National authorities can make a major difference by creating a legal framework that supports effective spatial planning. Local authorities also play a crucial role in being responsible for the planning process itself. Developers can do a lot to respond to local concerns by carefully integrating the technologies into the local context, respecting the local landscape and other natural assets and seeking ways to harmoniously integrate the RET into the surrounding environment.
The involvement of – and communication with – the stakeholders that are directly affected by the projects should be carefully considered throughout all phases of the project. Stakeholder involvement and communication is principally the responsibility of the project developers, but local authorities can also play an important role.


Next Generation of RES-E Policy Instruments

The rise of renewable sources of electricity (RES-E) is transforming power systems globally. This trend is likely to continue with large increases in investment and deployment of RES-E capacity over the coming decades. Several countries now have penetration levels of variable RES-E generation (wind and solar) in excess of 15% of their overall power-generation mix; and many jurisdictions (e.g., Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Germany, and Denmark; and, in the United States, Colorado) have experienced instantaneous penetration levels of more than 50% variable generation.

These greater penetration levels of variable RES-E have prompted jurisdictions to begin modifying practices that evolved in an era of large, readily dispatchable, central-station conventional power plants. A changing resource mix with greater penetration levels of variable RES-E has implications for grid operations, wholesale and retail power markets, and infrastructure needs. Thus, next-generation RES-E policies must be designed to address these emerging issues in an effective manner.

The RES-E-NEXT project commissioned by IEA-RETD presents an assessment of the key considerations for the next generation of RES-E policy through 2025 by analysing four crucial policy domains:

  • Securing RES-E generation;
  • Securing grid infrastructure;
  • Short-term security of supply: Flexibility; and
  • Long-term security of supply: Adequacy.


Are renewable energy technologies (RET) really less competitive than non-RET? Given the recent uptake of RET, is there still a business case for non-RET? The RE-COST study provides tools and insights to policy makers and other actors in the electricity sector to enable them to better assess the impact of policies and regulations on the attractiveness of investments in a variety of sources of electricity generation.
It compares different electricity generation technologies – both RET and non-RET – using fresh data from new and projected generation plants in a number of developed countries, providing recommendations to key actors in the energy sector, and to dispel misperceptions about costs and business cases of RE vs. non-RET.

  • Focus on seven countries: Canada (Alberta, Ontario, Québec), France, Germany, Japan, Norway, Swe-den and Spain.
  • Technologies analysed: On-shore and off-shore wind, large solar PV, hydro, gas and coal
  • Custom-built simulation model, designed to test the influence of a number of factors in the business case of RET and non-RET generation.
  • Data from more than 120 new plants, 90 interviews and 1200 simulation runs

Innovative electricity markets

The objectives of the project “Innovative electricity markets to incorporate variable production” are to identify innovative electricity market products and services needed for better integration of variable electricity generation and to give examples on how market systems could effectively incorporate variable sources of RE. This includes developing means for proactive grid planning and indicating how to prepare markets for dealing with cross-border electricity trade caused by variable supply.
Country reports: