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The CEM Launches New Advanced Power Plant Flexibility Campaign

Thursday, June 08, 2017

The CEM Launches New Advanced Power Plant Flexibility Campaign

The CEM's Advanced Power Plant Flexibility Campaign is set up to build strong momentum and commitment to implement solutions that make power plants more flexible. Flexibility is critical to integrate wind and solar energy into power systems. The campaign covers all forms of dispatchable power plants, particularly coal, gas, hydro and bioenergy.

The Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) announced the launch of the Advanced Power Plant Flexibility Campaign. The campaign is set up to build strong momentum and commitment from participants to implement solutions that make power plants more flexible. The campaign covers all forms of dispatchable power plants, particularly coal, gas, hydro and bioenergy.

The governments of China, Denmark and Germany lead the campaign; participating countries are Brazil, Canada, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, United Arab Emirates and the European Commission. Companies participating in the campaign include Enel, Energinet.dk, General Electric, DONG energy and COWI; the German think tank Agora Energiewende is also a member. The International Energy Agency (IEA) supports the implementation of the campaign as operating agent.

Flexibility is critical to integrate wind and solar energy into power systems. Strong and smart electricity grids, demand side response, storage and power plants can all provide such flexibility. Power plants are a main source of flexibility in power systems today.

Through a combination of high-level events for policy makers, technical expert workshops, capacity building and analytical reports, the campaign will help improve the understanding of power plant flexibility and the complementarity between flexible power plants and variable renewable energy. It will raise awareness of technical solutions for making existing thermal and renewable power plants more flexible and designing new plants in an optimal way. It will also highlight appropriate regulation and market design to reward flexibility provision in order to achieve a clean, cost-effective and reliable system.

“Flexibility of power plants will play a central role in the large-scale deployment of renewable energy in the future. We are committed as a part of this campaign to explore the potential for power plant flexibility and to identify and implement viable solutions, said Mr. Li Fanrong, vice administrator of the Chinese National Energy Administration, during the ministerial meeting.

“Demand side flexibility is getting a lot of attention these days. This is good, but we shouldn’t forget the enormous potential for low cost flexibility on the supply side. The technology is there, and it is used in many places around the world. In particular, we have valuable experience to share from the Danish power system, and we are already working closely with China on the issue. I hope this campaign will bring this topic to the awareness of the decision makers at the ninth Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM9) in 2018 in Denmark and Sweden and contribute to the realization of a more flexible and cleaner energy system in many CEM countries. I am also happy to be working closely with the IEA on the campaign. IEA is well positioned to address system integration issues, since it is a topic dealing with fossil energy and renewable energy at the same time and seeking solutions how to make both work together,” said the Danish minister of Energy, Utilities and Climate, Lars Christian Lilleholt.

The flexibility potential of both existing and new generation assets is very large. This is true for fossil (such as coal and gas plants) as well as renewable options (such as hydro and bioenergy plants). However, a number of barriers can stand in the way of realising this potential. For example, inadequate regulations, market design and contractual arrangements can hinder the uptake of innovative technological solutions.

“Ample good practice in flexibilising power plants exists, and with this campaign, we will work to further enhance its application. While it is important to avoid lock-in of carbon-intensive generation, ‎power plant flexibilisation is one important element to accommodate larger shares of variable renewables as a key pillar of our energy system and to mitigate energy sector emissions," said Thorsten Herdan, Director General for Energy Policy at the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

“I am extremely pleased by the launch of this campaign. Increasing the flexibility of the power system and in particular of power plants, both existing and newly built, is critical for achieving a secure, cost-effective and clean power system. I am sure that this campaign will raise attention for this important topic and facilitate international exchange of best practice in this field,” said Dr. Faith Birol, Executive Director of the IEA. He continued: “The IEA is proud of our long and extensive history of partnership with the CEM and its various initiatives since its formation, including the more recent decision by CEM countries to house the CEM Secretariat at IEA. This campaign underlines the close alignment between the CEM and IEA objectives.”

The announcement was made during the eighth Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM8) held in Beijing on 6–8 June. Participants have each made specific commitments on how to advance the objectives of the campaign. View commitmentsLearn more about the campaign.

The CEM is a unique partnership of 25 key countries, including most of the G20 economies, representing 90% of clean energy investment and working together to accelerate the global energy transition. www.cleanenergyministerial.org.