OECD Observer
The path towards a 100% renewable energy future
The global energy market is constantly evolving. Current market trends show the energy landscape is in transition towards more flexible energy systems with a rapidly increasing share of renewable energy, declining inflexible baseload generation and wider applications of storage technology.

The decreasing costs of renewables have begun to reduce new investments into coal and other inflexible baseload technologies; a transition which will eventually cause renewables to become the new baseload. In 2017 alone, 14% of electricity generation worldwide was attributed to wind and solar.

Wärtsilä aims to accelerate this transition towards a 100% renewable energy future. As a leading global energy system integrator offering a broad range of flexible and efficient solutions for the operational lifecycle, Wärtsilä can create optimal paths towards a 100% renewable energy future for its customers by analysing customer requirements and building optimal energy systems with total cost of ownership.

The renewable revolution

In recent years, market trends have shown a steady decline in the price of renewable energy in the global power sector. Investments into new inflexible baseload generation are also on the decline and price performance data shows that the cost competitiveness of wind and solar is rapidly increasing as compared to traditional thermal generation. In the past 20 years, the cost per kW of wind power plants has decreased by 40% and solar has dropped by 90%. Currently, wind and solar attribute to approximately 1,100 GW of electricity globally, which forecasts indicate will rise to 2,000 GW in 2024.

Moving towards high renewable energy systems

Global progress towards achieving a 100% renewable energy future is being made at an incredibly rapid pace. Power providers, utilities and governments are changing their perspectives towards inflexible generation and existing thermal capacity is being replaced with renewables. This phased transformation, from the global power system operating at 0-20% renewables to a stage where 80-100% renewable energy systems will exist, requires major changes in infrastructure, investments and innovation in technology. The renewables become the new baseload and excess renewable energy is used as raw material for other commodities. This increase in the usage of renewables will require highly flexible thermal capacity to maintain system reliability and energy storage will become a key component in the baseload grid to maintain overall grid balance.

Wärtsilä Solutions for a 100% renewable energy future

Flexibility and hybrid solutions are critical components for leading this transition to a 100% renewable energy future. Smart Power Generation plants provide the best means of support to the power system by offering the highest degree of flexibility, enabling major savings, and creating an optimised response to rapid changes in intermittent generation. To enable the transition for its customers, Wärtsilä also provides utility-scale hybrid solutions of integrated energy storage and energy management systems to achieve system stability, and maximises renewable penetration using solar and wind generation. Wärtsilä’s existing engine solutions have the capability to operate using various gas and liquid fuels and are flexible to also function on synthetic biofuels and traditional biofuels. Wärtsilä develops smart technologies and participates actively in the development of Power to X technologies.

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©OECD Observer May 2019