Between 2005 and 2016, the global installed capacity of solar PV increased more than seven-fold, and the capacity of onshore wind increased nearly three-fold, and owing to plunging costs, variable renewable energy (VRE) capacity is set to expand dramatically, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
To accommodate soaring shares of VRE generation, innovations have emerged to increase supply-side, demand-side, grid, and storage flexibility. At the same time, an ongoing sector-wide digital revolution is transforming asset operation and performance monitoring, and it has allowed for advancements in supply-side decentralization and demand-side electrification. These rapid changes have necessitated new market designs and new business models. While this breathtaking transformation is vaster and far more complex than shown here, key innovations—they’ve evolved from the “disruption” stage—that are making a substantial impact are mapped here.
Source: IRENA (2019), Innovation landscape for a renewable-powered future: Solutions to integrate variable renewables. International Renewable Energy Agency, Abu Dhabi. —Copy and artwork by Sonal Patel, a POWER associate editor.