Energy Regions in Transition – EU-California Tour 2015
European Grid Operators, Policymakers and Civil Sector Leaders Tour California to Develop Collaboration & Best Practices
In October 2015, a Delegation of European grid operators, energy policy leaders, regulators, researchers and non-profit clean energy advocates visited California to learn about how the state is handling its transition to 50+% renewable electricity and to exchange experiences regarding transitioning to an electricity grid supply of greenhouse gas-free, renewable sources.
The tour included discussions with experts from academia, the IT and cleantech sectors, regulatory agencies, and finance. The packed tour culminated with the CAISO Stakeholder Symposium, where Delegates delivered keynote and panel remarks, followed by a site visit and discussion at the CAISO headquarters.
The Renewables 100 Policy Institute partnered with the Renewables Grid Initiative (RGI) to organize this unique, multi-stakeholder Tour, in order to encourage international collaboration between regions who are leading on the energy transition and to promote sharing of best practices on how to improve grid reliability, increase economic benefits, limit environmental impacts, and strengthen public acceptance.
During the Tour, three dominant themes recurred among the grid operators:
- Larger electricity markets result in lower costs and are better able to accommodate more renewables.
- Balancing Area consolidation improves reliability and increases efficiencies, thereby reducing costs.
- More transmission is essential, in order to share resources and support larger markets.
The following were the top ten takeaways from the discussions that were recommended to inform future planning:
- California and European countries are facing many common challenges in their efforts to decarbonize the grids and share growing and widespread optimism about identifying and implementing solutions.
- Expanding a regional approach to grid operation is strongly needed to successfully decarbonize the transmission grid.
- Upgrades must be made to grid infrastructure to ensure maximum efficiency.
- Deeper inter-regional and international collaboration is needed on specific best practices for technically integrating renewable energy sources and complementary new market players onto the grid.
- Further collaboration is also needed to identify, track, and strengthen business models of the future, which will require greater horizontally and vertically integrated planning.
- Regulators and policymakers around the world must strengthen their capacity to respond to rapidly developing clean electricity technologies and consumer demand.
- The energy transition specifically requires two sets of policy and regulatory mechanisms: one to transform the energy system, and the other to ensure efficient and reliable running of the energy system.
- Stakeholders must be engaged in transparent transmission grid planning from the start.
- The energy transition is cross-sectorial, and further collaboration and exchange among frontrunners is needed to better understand, navigate, and indeed create this new energy playbook.
- The international multi-stakeholder dialogue on the Tour needs to be institutionalized into a long-term, regular exchange.