Grid Integration of Variable Renewables (GIVAR)

In a paper released on 2nd June 2016 on the side-lines of the Clean Energy Ministerial in San Francisco, the International Energy Agency argues that a new phase of deployment in wind and solar photovoltaics (PV) – currently the fastest-growing sources of electricity globally – is emerging, in which wind and solar PV are technologically mature and economically affordable. However electricity generation from both technologies is constrained by the varying availability of wind and sunshine, which can make it more difficult to maintain the necessary balance between electricity supply and consumption.

As these variable renewables enter this next generation of deployment, the issue of system and market integration becomes a critical priority for renewables policy and energy policy more broadly. The paper highlights that this will require strategic action in three areas:

• System-friendly deployment, aiming to maximise the net benefit of wind and solar power for the entire system
• Improved operating strategies, such as advanced renewable energy forecasting and enhanced scheduling of power plants
• Investment in additional flexible resources, comprising demand-side resources, electricity storage, grid infrastructure and flexible generation

In addition, the paper argues that unlocking the contribution of system-friendly deployment calls for a paradigm shift in the economic assessment of wind and solar power. The traditional focus on the levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) – a measure of cost for a particular generating technology at the level of a power plant – is no longer sufficient. Next-generation approaches need to factor in the system value of electricity from wind and solar power – the overall benefit arising from the addition of a wind or solar power generation source to the power system. System value is determined by the interplay of positives and negatives including reduced fuel costs, reduced carbon dioxide and other pollutant emissions costs, or higher costs of additional grid infrastructure.

In addition to general analysis and recommendations, the paper also includes summaries of three case studies in China, Denmark and South Africa.

Next-Generation Wind and Solar Power: from Cost to Value
 is available for free download here.

Grid Integration of Variable Renewables (GIVAR)

The Power of Transformation Cover with Text.jpgThe IEA Grid Integration of Variable Renewables (GIVAR) programme aims to build understanding of the characteristics of energy systems and markets that hinder or enable the reliable, economic integration of large shares of variable renewables (VRE), and to use this knowledge to inform and further enhance IEA analysis.

At the 2005 Gleneagles G8 Summit, the IEA was tasked with assessing the challenges of efficient integration of VRE in power systems. This has marked the starting point for IEA analysis on the topic. Over the past decade, GIVAR established itself as an authoritative source of policy advice on VRE grid integration.

A Phase 1 report was subsequently prepared for the 2008 Toyako G8 Summit, entitled Empowering Variable Renewables, Options for Flexible Electricity Systems, which identified strategic elements to facilitate deployment of VRE. The GIVAR project was given additional impetus by the call from the 2009 IEA Ministerial, where delegates called on the IEA to carry out “a study of electricity security including the impact of electricity from variable sources”.

Phase 2 of the project culminated in May 2011 in the launch of a new IEA book Harnessing Variable Renewables: a Guide to the Balancing Challenge, which presents a new method developed by the IEA to shed light on managing power systems with large shares of variable renewables. Written for decision-makers, it explores the twin challenges of variability and uncertainty from a technical perspective.

Phase 3 was concluded by the release of a landmark study The Power of Transformation – Wind, Sun and The Economics of Flexible Power Systems in early 2014. Building on the previous project phases, it includes a detailed economic assessment of the flexible resources (flexible generation, grid infrastructure, electricity storage, demand side integration) that can facilitate VRE system and market integration. The study confirms that integrating high shares – i.e., 30 percent of annual electricity production or more – of wind and solar PV in power systems can come at little additional cost in the long term. However, costs depend on how flexible the system currently is and what strategy is adopted to develop system flexibility over the long term. 

The Power of Transformation - Wind, Sun and the Economics of Flexible Power Systems is available for free on IEA bookshop website.

To read Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven's remarks at the launch, please click ‌‌‌here.

To see the presentation that accompanied the report's launch, please click here.

To hear the launch webinar, including the presentation, please click here.

To read the executive summary, please click here.

To see a fact sheet for The Power of Transformation, please click ‌here.

GIVAR IV Advisory Group

26 April 2017

Advisory Group meeting, OECD Paris

Agenda, Presentations & Minutes to download


31 January 2017

Advisory Group meeting, IEA Paris

Agenda, Presentations & Minutes to download


10 October 2016

Advisory Group meeting, IEA Paris

Agenda, Presentations & Minutes to download


26 January 2016

Advisory Group meeting, IEA Paris

Presentations & Agenda to download


26 October 2015

Advisory Group meeting, IEA Paris

Presentations to download