New lecture series highlights the political, technological, financial, socio-economic, commercial, and regional challenges for a future powered by renewables.

Starting this autumn and continuing into 2018,  IRENA and the “Sustainable Development in International Cooperation” coordination unit of the University of Bonn have organised a lecture series that will analyse and discuss the political, technological, financial, socioeconomic, commercial and regional challenges of a renewable energy powered future.

Covering topics ranging from innovation in renewables to improving energy access on islands, lectures will elaborate on the role of innovation in the transformation of the energy sector, highlighting concrete examples of exciting innovations that may become climate game changers.

IRENA will share its costs work and its outlook on future competitiveness of key renewable energy technologies, including preliminary results from its upcoming analysis on projected costs and performance of battery electricity storage technologies to 2030.

The Agency will outline bioenergy potential in the context of a recently released briefing paper on Bioenergy for Sustainable Development. Key findings from published and ongoing IRENA publications on the power sector transformation cluster and project facilitation, particularly renewable energy project development overview modelling techniques, will also be presented.

A lecture focused on planning long-term transition paths for a high share of variable renewable energy, will explore planning to overcome operational bottlenecks and the role of storage in the integration of variable renewable energy into a power system.

A schedule of the lectures can be found below.

Event Date Lecturers
Energy Transition 12 October 2017 Dr. Dolf Gielen (Director) and Mr. Luis Janeiro (Programme Officer), IRENA
Planning for the Transformation of the Power Systems 26 October 2017 Dr. Asami Miketa (Programme Officer) and Francisco Gafaro (Program Officer), IRENA
Energy Access and Islands 9 November 2017 Emanuele Taibi (Programme Officer) / Peter Journeay-Kaler (Associate Programme Officer), IRENA
Approaches to Sustainable Bioenergy 23 November 2017 Jeffrey Skeer (Senior Programme Officer), IRENA
Improving Energy Access with Renewable Energy Project Facilitation 7 December 2017 Prof. Dr. Roland Roesch (Senior Programme Officer) and Simon Benmarraze (Analyst), IRENA
Innovation Driving the Energy Sector Transformation 21 December 2017 Francisco Boshell (Programme Officer) and Prof. Dr. Roland Roesch (Senior Programme Officer), IRENA
The True Costs of Renewables 25 January 2018 Michael Taylor (Senior Analyst), IRENA

All events will take place from 18:00 to 20:00 in Lecture Hall III of the University of Bonn’s Main Building. To attend, please register via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or through the online form at https://www.nachhaltige-entwicklung.uni-bonn.de/vorlesungsreihen.

After one year of operation, THEnergy analyzed the SMA Fuel Save Solution located on Sint Eustatius and summarized its performance in one word “excellent.”

After one year of operation, it was time to have a look at the outcomes. Were estimations about the performance of the system accurate? Did the system perform as well as it should? Did the wear and tear on the components match expectations? To answer these questions, SMA Sunbelt asked Thomas Hillig to analyze how the system performed.

The hybrid system’s performance in numbers

statia_forecast_vs_measurement

A hybrid system’s performance is determined by simulations, which rely on assumptions being made. These assumptions are usually forecasts that, from looking at the past, estamet what the conditions will be like in the future.

A great impact on plant performance is caused by irradiation as it defines how much energy the solar system is able to deliver. The past year was not the sunniest one, which explains why the analysis shows an irradiation of 4.9% less than the forecast.
It is also important to consider consumption, as the overall system performance and savings increase the more energy from solar can directly be used. However, the amount actually consumed turned out to be 4.5% less than what was forecasted.

Albeit these non-optimal conditions, the plant performed excellently. The solar system produced more than expected. Despite irradiation being 4.9% less than anticipated, the solar system produced only 2.3% less energy. A great result.
Fuel savings reached 812,887 liters in the year reviewed, which is only 1.2% less thexpected – even better.

One of the most critical components is the battery as a higher ageing of the battery as the most expensive part of the system can be very costly. The batteries were forecasted to have a remaining battery capacity of 95.6% after the first year of operation. Measurement of the capacity after one year of operation showed that the battery performed much better with 98.7% remaining capacity.

You can find the complete performance analysis here (PDF).

Experiences from the first year of operation

First of all, Sint Eustatius is a really, really great hybrid system from a development point of view. For maintenance and tuning, there is a secure live connection between the hybrid system and SMA headquarters in Germany. Due to the time difference of -6 hours with Germany, we are able to comfortably put agreed optimizations and updates into place while solar production is still sleeping. At noon German time, solar production in the Caribbean powers up and the solar plant is at full power just before quitting time in Germany. This is a luxury unique to this site.

statia_cloudySint Eustatius is also an interesting plant because of where it is located (and not only because of dreamlike water and the generous people living there) and the hybrid system’s characteristics. The solar field is incredibly compact and there are nearly no statistical effects distributing cloud impact to different solar systems in the grid. Above that, cloud movement is often really fast as water all around barely slows wind down. So clouds appear within seconds, causing an immediate and extreme reduction in solar production. This would create a significant strain on the generators because always enough genset power would have to be kept online to cover each single solar break in. At this point the battery storage kicks in. As soon as solar production drops, the storage reacts immediately by pushing energy into the grid with a power of up to +-1MW. As a result, a 0.9MVA genset can run at idle power of 30% while 1.7MW of the load is present in the system.

Sint Eustatius a blueprint for the german energy transition

germanep

From the beginning, Germany’s grid utility companies have complained about grid stability as the use of renewable energies has grown. On the right you can see power production of one recent week in the German grid. While in Sint Eustatius the fluctuations in solar power were much more significant as there is little regional distribution AND the renewable share does not cap at 50% as it does in Germany, but instead goes up to 89%; AND there is no larger grid to import / export energy to balance out the fluctuations, Statia Utility Company (Stuco) still intends to raise the renewable share in their grid even further.

So, when a little Caribbean island like Sint Eustatius has the technology to cope with the difficult conditions presented given their location, why should a large European grid not be able to overcome its challenges? If you compare the diagrams, the difference in the level of challenges becomes clear.

Outlook

Today, we are working on the next level of hybrid systems. While solar-diesel-hybrid systems today mainly reduce consumption with a generator there to cover spikes and to give the beat in the grid, we are developing means to completely turn off all gensets and let the battery storage entirely take over the grid. Again, Sint Eustatius may well be the place where we first implement this large step forward with a larger battery, even more solar and a grid forming industrial class battery inverter.

We will keep you updated on our development progress here.

Interested in the project? Check the video about the project (2016):

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More information

You can find all of our blog posts on the Fuel Save Solution here. It is a great source of information if you are interested in saving fuel or planning to integrate solar energy into your grid.

Do you have comments or questions? Great! Just use the comment field below. We look forward to receiving your comments and we will answer each question as best as we can.

You can find even more details on the Fuel Save Solution Product Website.

If you would like our experts to help you lay out your own Fuel Save Solution, just send us an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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This is how independent energy supply can be quite successful. The screencast shows how easy it is to design a professional island system with Sunny Design Web. 

We guide you through designing an island system and give you tips for your perfect system design. After that, nothing stands in the way of successful operation of the island system.

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In this screencast we show you how to set up consumption profiles with Sunny Design Web. You can do it with just a few clicks and continue your system design.

A consumption profile is badly needed when designing an island system or a grid-connected solar system that focus on self-consumption. It describes the daily power consumption and also includes seasonal fluctuations. In grid-connected systems the consumption profile is used to determine self-sufficiency and thus calculates the potential saved energy costs.

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