The International Energy Agency has released a global study examining how solar and wind power, cyber threats and other issues are impacting electricity security.
The Power Systems in Transition report is being launched today at the second Global Ministerial Conference on System Integration of Renewables, which is co-hosted by the IEA and the Singapore government.
The challenge for governments and utilities is to update policies, regulations and market designs to ensure that power systems remain secure throughout clean energy transitions, the IEA highlighted in the study.
The report maps out “key steps” for achieving this.
An “essential goal” is to make systems more flexible so they can smoothly accommodate the variable electricity production from wind and solar.
This includes making the best use of the flexibility on offer from existing power plants that can generate electricity when required, as well as increasing investments in grids and other sources of flexibility such as demand-side technologies and storage resources.
The IEA report found that global investment in these areas is declining, a trend that has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 crisis.
“An increase in investments should be facilitated by better-designed markets that reward power system resources that deliver flexibility and capacity” the IEA said.
The growing digitalisation of electricity systems, the rise of smart grids and the shift to a wider distribution of generation resources offers “many opportunities and benefits”.
The report notes that cyber threats are already substantial and growing, making it imperative to strengthen cyber resilience measures and make them a central part of the planning and operation of power systems.
Governments can achieve this through a wide range of policy and regulatory approaches – from highly prescriptive ones to framework-oriented, performance-based ones, the study advised.
The new IEA report identifies best practices and lessons learned from around the globe.
It also provides a set of recommendations for institutional frameworks that establish clear responsibilities, incentives and rules; measures to identify, manage and mitigate risks; and protocols to monitor progress, respond and recover, including through emergency response exercises.
“The IEA is the world’s energy authority where governments and industry leaders can share experiences and expertise to help move the world towards a more secure and sustainable energy future,” said IEA chief executive Fatih Birol.
“This report is the reference manual for policy-making on electricity security now and for years to come.”