Flexible hydropower providing value to renewable energy integration

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Flexibility resources are crucial for a secure and robust power system. As increasing shares of variable renewable energy sources (VRE) are integrated into electricity systems, the need for flexibility and energy storage also increases. A new report describes the role of hydropower and the need for flexibility in the future electricity system.

The report is a white paper from Annex IX, IEA Hydro that aims to provide a high-level overview of key issues with the intent of identifying priority areas for further in-depth reviews and analyses.

The key topics discussed are:

  • Future energy systems with large shares of variable renewable energy sources
  • The needs for flexibility in these systems at time scales ranging from seconds to months
  • The status and capabilities of hydropower to contribute to these needs
  • The value of flexibility in the energy system

Hydropower is the largest source of renewable energy today, with hydropower and pumped hydro storage playing an important role in integrating and balancing VRE. Hydropower is a mature technology, but many older plants need upgrading, refurbishment and up-to-date modes of operation.

The report outlines where there is a need for further work:

  • Further assessment of technological, market, policy and regulatory requirements to ensure appropriate investments in the energy system.
  • How to optimize market mechanisms to ensure sufficient flexibility at the right scale and the right time

The paper, published by Annex IX of  The International Energy Agency Technology Collaboration Programme on Hydropower (IEA Hydropower) also discusses the increasing importance of supplying the right capacity at the right time, and how the market value of flexibility- related products should reflect the value these products provide to the electricity system. 

Authors and contributors: Atle Harby and Linn Emelie Schäffer (editors and authors), Fredrik Arnesen, Peter  Bauhofer, Alex Beckitt,  Sam Bockenhauer, Audun Botterud, Toril Hunstad Christensen, Luke Middleton, Niels Nielsen, Abhishek Somani,  Enrique  Gutierrez Tavarez and Caroline Østlie


Linn Emelie Schäffer

Atle Harby

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