Asia Turning to California as Role Model on Renewable Energy

Asia is looking to California and Germany as the trend setters and policy leaders in renewable energy.

This was the assessment of Ric O’Connell, international director for renewable energy at Black & Veatch Energy, which works on renewable energy projects in Asia.

O’Connell gave that assessment during a recent talk on Renewable Energy in Asia at the California Energy Commission. The importance of the topic is underscored by the growing interest in Asia where renewable energy consumption is growing and some countries have set renewable energy goals.

Indonesia wants to install 35 gigawatts of new generation by 2019 – with 8 of that from renewable energy. China plans to be 40 to 50 percent carbon free by 2030 (including hydropower), while the Philippines’ goal is 20 percent renewable energy by 2030, he said.

Working to reach those goals has necessitated looking towards existing models. Germany has served as a model for Asian countries, particularly its feed-in tariff structures. California’s Renewables Portfolio Standard, interconnection standards, reverse auctions and recent push on energy storage are also models, O’Connell said.

California has set a goal of 50 percent renewable energy by 2030.

O’Connell’s talk at the Energy Commission’s office in Sacramento was no accident. In 2015, the Energy Commission hosted delegations from 42 countries with the strongest interest from Asia, namely China, Japan and South Korea.

O’Connell said Indonesia is one country influenced by California’s approach to renewable energy.

“The U.S. Agency for International Development basically took the Rule 21 model and applied it to Indonesia,” he said.

Rule 21, established by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), establishes best practices for safely and efficiently interconnecting renewables to the grid, especially solar. Rule 21 practices allow for better grid stability and removes barriers to the growth of the state's renewable energy market.

The Energy Commission is working with the CPUC as part of the Smart Inverter Working Group, a component of Rule 21. The group is developing recommendations for the advanced functionality of inverters that allow conversion of energy from solar, wind and other renewable energy technology so that it can be accessed by end users.

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The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency created by the Legislature in 1974.
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