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28 February 2017

IEC issues recommendations on global energy interconnection

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) published a whitepaper on the possibility, requirements and benefits of a global energy interconnection (GEI) system.

The whitepaper Global Energy Interconnection provides insight on regional and state’s energy generation, transmission and distribution landscapes and the extent to which energy markets in developed economies are ready to influence other energy markets to adopt the GEI system.

In a press statement, the IEC said the report provides recommendations on the development of international standards to ensure simplified adoption of the system. The report highlights the parties which are supposed to be involved in the development of the standards.

Dr. Hu Hao, senior project manager, international cooperation department, State Grid Corporation of China, states “To achieve the ambitious concept of global energy interconnection (GEI) or large scale, regional, intercontinental interconnection, requires political vision and a worldwide collaborative effort. Drawing up GEI concepts at an early stage by a consensus-based process and through close cooperation between researchers, industry, regulators and standardisation bodies is one of the central requirements success of the implementation of the concept.”

Energy interconnection and demand

According to the IEC, the adoption of the GEI system would not only help in improving access to energy to one-fifth of the global population lacking access to electricity but would also help in reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment.

The system is expected to put an end to the reliance on fossil fuels such as wood, coal and animal waste as a source of energy for cooking and heating by some 3 billion people across the globe.

The adoption of the global energy interconnection system would also benefit countries which are currently facing challenges in sustaining the reliability of their grid networks due to increases in population and economic activities.

According to the findings of the IEC, due to an increase in global industrial activities, world energy consumption increased from 5.4 billion tonnes of coal in 1965 to 18.5 billion tonnes of coal in 2014.

China, India and South Asia have recorded the highest levels of energy demand over the past decade. Although China increased its deployment of clean energy resources, the pace remains behind the level of the country’s carbon emissions from industrial activities and energy generation. [China looks to create $50tn global renewable energy grid].

The IEC predicts that majority of utilities in developing countries will face a huge challenge to meet the demands of their grid networks at the same ensuring they reduce their carbon footprint due to lack of adequate funding. Indonesia is leading other global states in terms of coal use since 2000.

For instance, Indonesia is likely to continue its domination in generating energy using coal due to the unavailability of funds to deploy large-scale clean energy projects required to meet the country's growing energy demand.

However, the development of a GEI system comprising multiple ranges of distributed and renewable energy resources and transmission lines interconnecting countries and continents would help in solving the grid reliability challenges being faced by many energy companies especially in the developing economies.

Clean energy adoption and smart grid development

The IEC states that an increase in adoption of renewable energy resources due to carbon emission caps in the US and other European world countries, the availability of funds for research and development of smart grid solutions has paved way towards the availability of solutions to allow interconnection of energy networks at a global scale.

Moreover, the energy sector in Europe and the US has for the past decade witnessed an increase in the merging of smart grid solution firms, utility companies and organisations such that the development of international standards for the interconnection of grid networks is going to be easy, states the IEC.

The IEC recommends that:

  • Policy-makers and regulators should consider the need to develop tools and methodologies to assess the costs and benefits of large-scale, regional, transcontinental and eventually global energy interconnections.
  • While large-scale deployment of renewables should continue to be encouraged, emphasis needs to shift to the joint planning of transmission and generation assets
  • Policy-makers and regulators should establish fora for discussion of large-scale energy interconnection initiatives.
  • Joint planning by relevant agencies, regional bodies and TSOs should be promoted and encouraged
  • Studies should be carried out concerning the market readiness and economic feasibility of establishing remote bases for renewable energy, namely in far northern latitudes, in the arctic or along the equator.
  • Scaling of equipment will pose challenges to industry so there will be a need for prior coordination and joint participation in demonstration efforts (e.g. development of technology), in order to avoid the first missteps on the Smart Grid.

 

Image credit: www.humanosphere.com.

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