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As Solar, Wind, and Hydrogen Compete, Renewable Energy Evolution Demands Flexibility

January 22, 2024

Global energy production is moving inexorably toward renewable sources. Solar photovoltaic (PV) is ascendent right now. But wind could be poised for a rebound, and green hydrogen could play a significant role. In this blog post, we will explore the challenges and opportunities associated with the integration of renewable energy, highlighting the crucial role of flexible solutions, such as programmable power supplies, in shaping the future of renewable energy.

In the Renewable Energy Market Update for 2023 and 2024, published in June 2023, the International Energy Agency IEA estimates that global renewable capacity would increase by a record 440 GW during 2023. The agency says the solar PV market looks exceptionally bright, with added capacity during 2024 expected to reach 310 GW, a 7% increase over 2023. The agency further predicts that the cumulative world renewable capacity will be more than 4,500 GW by the end of 2024, equaling the total power capacity of China and the United States combined.AdobeStock_434026070_small

McKinsey & Company, in its Global Energy Perspective 2023, published in October 2023, states that the world is progressing toward a net-zero-carbon future. “By 2040, we expect solar and wind together to contribute the largest share of the world’s energy mix,” the firm notes, adding that in 2050, renewable sources will account for 65% to 85% of global energy production. The increased share of renewable energy will come primarily at the expense of coal. Still, the firm adds that natural gas demand will continue to grow through 2040 because of its supporting role in the move to renewable sources. Green hydrogen is also in the mix, but McKinsey notes it faces large-scale deployment challenges.

In its 2024 renewable energy industry outlook, the Deloitte Research Center for Energy & Industrials cites figures specific to the US, noting that from January to August 2023, utility-scale solar-capacity additions reached almost 9 GW, outpacing additions from other sources and representing a 36% increase over the same period in 2022. In contrast, wind uptake has been sluggish, accounting for 2.8 GW from January to August 2023, as wind installations have faced permitting and other challenges. In Land-Based Wind Market Report: 2023 Edition, published in August 2023, the US Department of Energy forecasts a recovery in the wind market, saying that while the US added 8.5 GW of total wind-power capacity in 2022, expected additions will range from 18.4 GW to 22.7 GW in 2027.

Deloitte notes that the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022 and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) of 2021 have helped catalyze $227 billion of announced public and private investments in the US in utility-scale solar, wind, hydrogen, and energy storage, with $100 billion of that investment having been realized. The firm notes, however, that while hydrogen is “teed up for takeoff,”—an actual investment of less than $1 billion significantly lags behind the announced investment of more than $50 billion. Potentially favorable government guidance on green hydrogen “…could open the floodgates on actual investments in 2024,” the firm says.

As the world embraces a future powered by renewables, the need for flexible solutions will only become more pressing. Programmable power supplies, with their ability to simulate, optimize, and test a wide range of renewable energy technologies, are poised to play a critical role in this transition. By embracing flexibility and innovation, we can ensure a smooth and successful integration of renewable energy into the grid, paving the way for a cleaner and more sustainable future for all.


Programmable power for integration of renewable energy

AMETEK Programmable Power has extensive experience in the integration of renewable energy, as described in The Rise of Renewable Energy: Accelerating Change Through Better Power and Testing Solutions. The company offers systems ranging from solar-array simulators for solar PV applications to programmable loads for fuel-cell tests.

In addition, the company supports the simulation and measurement capabilities required to ensure that a wind turbine’s components all work together seamlessly, offering a range of programmable power supplies and electronic loads that can help optimize wind turbine designs. Read more at Programmable Sources and Loads Augment Wind-Turbine Development and Test.

Several organizations are applying AMETEK Programmable Power’s products for the integration of renewable energy. For example, a top-tier renewable-energy provider required a test solution for solar microinverters for residential and commercial installations. The company is evaluating AMETEK Programmable Power’s new California Instruments Sequoia regenerative programmable source for its unique application with an e-load option for grid simulation. Read more at Programmable Sources and Loads Boost Manufacturer’s Micro Inverter, Electric Vehicle Projects.

In addition, a European research institute wants to examine the effects of varying cloud conditions on solar-array output power, and it requires a test system incorporating a programmable DC power supply to simulate the characteristic curve of PV modules’ outputs. The institute chose AMETEK Programmable Power’s TerraSAS, which is specifically designed to emulate the dynamic electrical behavior of a terrestrial PV solar array. Read more at Research Institute Chooses Solar Array Simulator to Test Ultrafast PV Energy Storage.

AMETEK Programmable Power also supports green hydrogen applications. Several organizations have applied the company’s PLA and PLW Series programmable electronic loads to fuel-cell test applications. Read more at Programmable Electronic Loads Enable Fuel-Cell Test.

In addition, read how one company is applying AMETEK Programmable Power’s loads to fuel cells for the heavy-goods transportation market at Fuel-Cell Company Chooses PLW Water-Cooled Electronic Load, learn how a system integrator is using electronic loads at System Integrator Incorporates Electronic Loads Into Fuel-Cell ATE, and read about how a research organization in Asia is applying electronic loads to fuel-cell and energy-storage-system test in Organization Chooses Water-Cooled Electronic Loads for Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Test.

AMETEK Programmable Power extends its capabilities beyond the renewable-energy space to serve any industry vertical requiring programmable power, including AC and AC + DC sources. Read more at High-Power Programmable AC Sources Leverage New Technologies to Meet Evolving Industry Requirements.