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Renewables 2011 Global Status Report | REN21

Renewables 2011 Global Status Report | REN21

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Published by Uğur Özkan
Published by REN21.
Published by REN21.

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Published by: Uğur Özkan on Jul 15, 2011
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There are currently more than 6 million green power
consumers in Europe, the United States, Australia, Japan,
and Canada.72

Green power purchasing and utility green
pricing programs are growing, aided by a combination of
supporting policies, private initiatives, utility programs,
and government purchases. The three main vehicles for
green power purchases are: utility green pricing pro-
grams, competitive retail sales by third-party producers
enabled through electricity deregulation/liberalization
(also called “green marketing”), and voluntary trading of
renewable energy certificates.73

Germany has become the world’s green power leader,
with a market that grew from 0.8 million residential
customers in 2006 to 2.6 million in 2009.74

consumers purchased 7 TWh of green electricity in 2009
(6% of the nation’s total electricity consumption). In
addition to residential consumers, 150,000 business and
other customers purchased over 10 TWh in 2009 (9.5%
of total electricity consumption). Other major European
green power markets are Austria, Finland, Italy, Sweden,
Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, although the
market share of green power in these countries is less
than 5%.
Australia’s 900,000 residential and 34,000 business
consumers collectively purchased 1.8 TWh of green
power in 2008. In Japan, the green power certificate
market grew to 227 GWh in 2009 with more than 50

The Green Heat Certificate Program began in
2010 for solar thermal, with biomass joining in 2011.76
In South Africa, at least one company offers green power
to retail customers using renewable electricity produced
from bagasse combustion in sugar mills.
Some governments require that utilities offer green
energy options to their consumers. In the United States,
where green pricing programs are offered by more than
850 utilities, regulations in several states require utilities
or electricity suppliers to offer green power products.77
More than 1.4 million U.S. consumers purchased 30 TWh





POlICy lanDSCaPe


As the share of renewable power increases in elec-
tricity grids around the world, the technologies and
policies for grid integration – to handle the variabil-
ity of some renewables – are advancing as well. On
some national power grids, non-hydro renewables
already make up large shares of total generation, for
example 21% of Spain’s electricity and nearly 14% of
Germany’s. (See the Global Market Overview section
of this report.) Variable renewable sources – particu-
larly wind and solar – are growing rapidly in these
countries, as well as in Denmark, Portugal, Ireland,
some U.S. states, and many other places.
Traditionally, electric power supply systems have
provided enough flexibility to meet variable power
demands, which can differ significantly by time of
day and season of year. Conventional power plants
offer some flexibility to adjust their output, on a
response scale that ranges from minutes for natural
gas and hydro plants (including pumped hydro stor-
age) to hours for coal plants. Nuclear plants offer the
least flexibility.
The existing flexibility of power grids offers some
capability for integrating variable renewables up to
a certain level of penetration. This level depends on
the strength of the transmission grid, the degree and
capacity of interconnection, the amount of existing
reservoir or pumped hydro capacity, and the amount
of generation that can be run on a flexible basis. The
share of renewable generation that can be accom-
modated from this existing flexibility may vary from
just a few percent on weak, inflexible grids to 30% or
more on strong, flexible grids.
Power dispatch models that incorporate day-ahead
weather forecasts for wind speeds and solar insola-
tion have also become standard power system tools
for handling more variable renewables. Beyond
these standard tools, Spain in 2007 established a

pioneering example of a separate power control cen-
ter (CECRE) dedicated to renewable energy, which
allows the transmission operator Red Eléctrica to
monitor and control, in real time, renewable power
generation around the country.
Smart grid controls and intelligent load management
(also called “demand response” or “load control”)
have begun to extend the level of flexibility of power
systems in ways that make higher shares of renew-
able energy possible at competitive economic cost.
Such complementary technologies and practices
support renewable energy development, especially
in the presence of facilitating regulations and poli-
cies, although they can go only so far in extending the
flexibility of traditional power grids.
In the longer term, advanced technologies and prac-
tices such as grid-connected energy storage (batter-
ies or other forms of storage) and electric vehicles
with “vehicle to grid” capability that functions as
a form of storage, may allow even higher levels of
renewable penetration, although some experts are
convinced that intelligent load control by itself could
provide enough additional flexibility without the
need for more advanced storage technologies.
Geographic distribution of renewable energy project
sites can also help to reduce variability by increasing
resource diversity. Policies that influence the location
and siting of wind and solar resources can explicitly
enhance this diversity, as can policies for transmis-
sion grid planning and strengthening. In addition,
having a diverse portfolio of renewable technologies
that naturally balance each other, and including
dispatchable renewables like hydro and biomass, can
enable higher penetration levels.

Sidebar 7. GRID InTeGRaTIOn anD COMPleMenTaRy InfRaSTRuCTuRe

Source: See Endnote 71 for this section.


of green power in 2009, up from 18 TWh in 2007.78
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power
Partnership grew to more than 1,300 corporate and
institutional partners that purchased more than 19 TWh
of electricity by the end of 2010.79

The largest consumer,
Intel, nearly doubled its purchases in 2010, to 2.5 TWh.
Other innovative green power purchasing models are
emerging in the United States. For example, some utili-
ties enable customers to purchase shares in a community
solar project and then obtain a credit on their utility bill
equivalent to their share of the project output.80
The European Energy Certificate System (EECS) frame-
work has 18 member countries and allows the issue,
transfer, and redemption of voluntary renewable energy
certificates (RECs). It also provides “guarantee-of-origin”
certificates in combination with RECs to enable renew-
able electricity generators to confirm origin. During
2009, 209 TWh of certificates were issued, more than
triple the number in 2006.81

Norway, a major hydro-
power producer, issued 62% of all certificates under the
EECS, virtually all of which were hydropower. In other
European countries, green power labels such as “Grüner
strom” and “Ok-power” in Germany and “Naturemade
star” in Switzerland have been introduced to strengthen
consumer confidence.
Price premiums for green power over conventional
electricity tariffs have tended to decline in recent years.82
For example, retail green power premiums for residential
and small commercial consumers in the United States
were typically U.S. 1–3 cents/kWh over the past several
years, but recently some premiums have fallen below
1 cent/kWh.83

Disclosure of renewable energy shares
on consumer bills is used in Italy and elsewhere to help
drive demand.84

In general, green labeling programs pro-
vide information to consumers about energy products.
They are either government mandated or voluntary guar-
antees that the products meet pre-determined sustain-
ability criteria, including specified shares of renewable
energy content. Labeling can therefore facilitate volun-
tary decisions for green energy purchasing. However,
having several different labels can cause confusion for
electricity consumers.85

Voluntary purchases of “green” energy by consumers
are most commonly made for renewable electricity, but
they also are possible for renewable heat and transport
biofuels. For example, in New Zealand one independent
transport fuel company, to distinguish itself commer-
cially from the major oil companies in the market, offers
a 10% ethanol blend and a 5% biodiesel blend.86


fuels were initially sold at a higher “green” price, but with
recent oil price increases they have actually become a
cheaper option. The 2009 New Zealand Biodiesel Grant
scheme and Emission Trading Scheme have also helped
to promote green energy purchases.87

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