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Publications

The 21st Century Power Partnership publications provide information about and analysis of market design and regulatory issues for clean energy and 21st century power systems. Published work appears in scientific journals and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory publications database.

Transforming Power Systems Through Global Collaboration

Country-Level Publications

India and the 21st Century Power Partnership

South Africa and the 21st Century Power Partnership

China and the 21st Century Power Partnership

Mexico and the 21st Century Power Partnership

Thought Leadership Publications

Status of Power System Transformation 2018: Advanced Power Plant Flexibility

This report provides a comprehensive overview of how power plants can contribute to making power systems more flexible, as well as offering a range of guidance on strategies to promote cost-effective and system-appropriate power plant flexibility measures. Based on a wealth of real-life case studies and data, it provides a reference source for the technical capabilities of power plants in a diverse set of country contexts. In particular, it showcases a number of technical options and examples of how retrofits to existing power plants have been a cost-effective tool for enhancing system flexibility. In addition, it provides examples of policy, market and regulatory instruments available to unlock power plant flexibility, and discusses how these instruments can be combined into a comprehensive roll-out strategy. The report is aimed at policy makers and regulators who are not experts in engineering, but who need to understand power plant flexibility in order to enhance system planning and upgrade policy, market and regulatory frameworks.

Next-Generation Performance-Based Regulation: Emphasizing Utility Performance to Unleash Power Sector Innovation

September 2017
Performance-based regulation (PBR) has established a pathway for reforming hundred-year-old regulatory structures to unleash innovations within 21st century power systems. The old regulatory paradigm, built to ensure safe and reliable electricity at reasonable prices from capital-intensive electricity monopolies, is adjusting to disruptive technological advances that are transforming the way electricity is generated, delivered, and consumed. PBR enables regulators to recognize the value electric utilities bring to customers by enabling advanced energy technologies and integrating smart solutions into the utility grid and utility operations. These changes in the electric energy system and customer capacities have catalyzed increased interest in motivating regulated entities to move beyond traditional cost-of-service performance regulation. This report addresses best practices and lessons gleaned from more than two decades of PBR in practice, and analyzes how those can be applied to design innovative PBR programs.

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May 2018 Update: We have re-organized the original report into a new 3-volume series, which you can read here:

21st Century Power Partnership: September 2016 Fellowship Report

September 2017
This Fellowship is a follow-up to the “Technical Audit of Eskom’s Medium- and Long-term Modelling Capabilities,” conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in April 2016. The prospect and role of variable renewable energy (vRE) in South Africa poses new modelling-related challenges that Eskom is actively working to address by improving the fidelity of PLEXOS LT and ST models.

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Greening the Grid: Pathways To Integrate 175 Gigawatts of Renewable Energy into India's Electric Grid

June 2017
The use of renewable energy (RE) sources, primarily wind and solar generation, is poised to grow significantly within the Indian power system. The Government of India has established an installed capacity target of 175 gigawatts (GW) of RE by 2022 that includes 60 GW of wind and 100 GW of solar, up from current capacities of 29 GW wind and 9 GW solar. Using advanced weather and power system modeling designed specifically for this project, the multi-institutional study team explored operational impacts of meeting India’s RE targets and identified actions that are favorable for integration. The study team’s primary tool was a detailed production cost model, which simulates optimal scheduling and dispatch of available power generation in a future year (2022) by minimizing total production costs subject to physical, operational, and market constraints. Read the overview to learn more.

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Status of Power System Transformation 2017

June 2017
Power sectors around the world are undergoing significant change due to the rapid uptake of new supply- and demand-side technologies. Large-scale wind and solar power as well as distributed energy resources are influencing the planning, operation, and profitability of power systems. Policymakers, utilities, and other stakeholders need to apply innovative approaches to transform the power system, with the objective to achieve sustainable, affordable and reliable electricity. This report provides an overview of current trends across the globe, with a focus on the integration of renewables and local grid development. A framework for assessing the status of power system transformation is also introduced and applied to Indonesia, South Africa, Mexico, and Australia.

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Policies for Enabling Corporate Sourcing of Renewable Energy Internationally

May 2017
Interest in renewable energy (RE) procurement in new markets is on the rise. Corporations are increasing their commitments to procuring RE, motivated by an interest in using clean energy sources and reducing their energy expenses. Many large companies have facilities and supply chains in multiple countries, and are interested in procuring renewable energy in the grids where they use energy. The policy environment around the world plays a key role in shaping where and how corporations will invest in renewables. This report explores the policy and regulatory enabling environment for corporate sourcing of renewables.

Overview brochure

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Evolving Distributed Generation Support Mechanisms: Case Studies from United States, Germany, United Kingdom, and Australia

March 2017
Past distributed generation policies and market developments in the United States provide lessons learned. Additional case studies illustrate how several countries are pivoting away from historical forms of support for distributed PV toward more market-based schemes.

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Also available in Mandarin

Transmission Challenges and Best Practices for Cost-Effective Renewable Energy Delivery across State and Provincial Boundaries

March 2017
Over the past ten years, China has seen tremendous growth in renewable energy development, accompanied by high levels of curtailment. This report details U.S. experiences in transmission scheduling, pricing, access, and allocation to illustrate implications for consideration in China.

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Mexico's Regulatory Engagement in Bulk Electric Power System Planning: An Overview of U.S. Practices and Tools

June 2016
Mexico's transition to a modern wholesale power market will place new demands on how regulators evaluate and approve transmission expansion projects. Transmission projects in a modern wholesale market fulfill one of several needs, and utilities, regional transmission organizations (RTOs), and regulatory authorities in the United States have encountered comparable challenges in their market transitions to ensure projects meeting each type of need can be built. The purpose of this report is to open a window to view that experience. The report examines key practices of different U.S. jurisdictions that have moved from transmission planning to transmission approval, and it focuses on the role of the regulator in supporting a planning process that equitably meets identified needs.

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Clean Restructuring: Design Elements for Low Carbon Wholesale Markets and Beyond

May 2016
Countries around the world are in various stages of reforming and restructuring their power systems to better meet development needs. Changes in technology, business models, societal needs, and environmental goals are increasing pressure for countries to consider improvements to their power systems. This report addresses key issues associated clean restructuring—the transition from traditional, vertically integrated utilities to competitive wholesale markets that rely on variable renewable electricity sources, demand response, and other clean energy options.

Overview brochure

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Status Report on Power System Transformation

May 2015
Power system transformation is a complex, active process that is taking place at different rates and in different forms around the world. This transformation has multiple drivers, including technological advances, policy goals, and social change, and multiple enablers, especially policy, financial, and business model innovation. This report aims to bring the power system transformation picture into sharper focus, bolstering the evidence base for power system transformation by providing a collection of empirical examples of the types of innovations that are emerging around the world.

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Report on India's Renewable Electricity Roadmap 2030: Toward Accelerated Renewable Electricity Deployment: Executive Summary

February 2015
Published with participation from 21CPP by the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) with support of the Confederation of Indian Industry, Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation, and the Regulatory Assistance Project, this report outlines key recommendations and a framework for integrated policy strategy for rapid renewable electricity implementation that complements both existing and planned conventional power projects. The full report is available from the Confederation of Indian Industry.

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Power Systems of the Future: A 21st Century Power Partnership Thought Leadership Report

February 2015
This report summarizes key forces driving transformation in the power sector around the world, presents a framework for evaluating decisions regarding extent and pace of change, and defines pathways for transformation. Powerful trends in technology, policy environments, financing, and business models are driving change in power sectors globally. In light of these trends, the question is no longer whether power systems will be transformed, but rather how these transformations will occur. Three approaches to policy and technology decision-making can guide these transformations: adaptive, reconstructive, and evolutionary. Within these approaches, the report explores the five pathways that have emerged as viable models for power system transformation.

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Two-page overview

Making Coal Flexible: Getting From Baseload to Peaking Plant

January 2015
Power systems in the 21st century—with higher penetration of low-carbon energy, smart grids, and other emerging technologies—will favor resources that have low marginal costs and provide system flexibility. Such flexibility includes the ability to cycle on and off as well as run at low minimum loads to complement variations in output from high penetration of renewable energy. Can coal-fired power plants continue to operate cost-effectively if they cycle routinely? Yes, according to experiences from an actual multi-unit North American coal generating station. This flexibility requires limited modifications to hardware, but extensive modifications to operational practice.

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Also available in Mandarin

Overview of Variable Renewable Energy Regulatory Issues: A Clean Energy Regulators Initiative Report

May 2014
This CERI report surveys key regulatory issues associated with the deployment of renewable energy, particularly variable renewable energy (VRE) sources such wind and solar power. The report draws upon the research and experiences from various international contexts, and identifies key ideas that have emerged from the growing body of VRE deployment experience and regulatory knowledge.

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Research Highlights fact sheet

Peer-to-Peer Consultations: Ancillary Services Peer Exchange with India: Experience from South Africa, Europe & the United States

May 2014
In March 2014, the Power Partnership and the Regulatory Assistance Project - India hosted two peer-to-peer exchanges among experts from India, South Africa, Europe, and the United States to discuss the provision of ancillary services, particularly in the context of added variability and uncertainty from renewable energy. This fact sheet summarizes the consultation.

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Flexibility in 21st Century Power Systems

May 2014
Flexibility of operation—the ability of a power system to respond to change in demand and supply—is a characteristic of all power systems. Flexibility is especially prized in twenty-first century power systems, with higher levels of grid-connected variable renewable energy (primarily, wind and solar).

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Research Highlights fact sheet

The Evolving Role of the Power Sector Regulator: A Clean Energy Regulators Initiative Report

April 2014
This report seeks to briefly characterize the evolving role of the power sector regulator. It describes seven existing objectives of power sector regulators and nine emerging objectives, highlighting key challenges and outlining interdependencies. As the preliminary installment in a series, it aims to lay the groundwork for subsequent reports and case studies that will explore these topics in depth.

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The Role of Demand Management in the Utility of the Future

April 2014
Demand management and distributed generation could transform how consumers interact with the electricity grid and manage energy. Energy consumers may be shifting to view themselves as both consumers and increasingly as suppliers - with renewable energy generation on-site and demand response capability. This new consumer model and the concept of a distributed energy system may be disruptive to the traditional utility model. It also changes the operation and management of the U.S. electricity grid. The Institute for Building Efficiency and the 21st Century Power Partnership hosted a Roundtable Dialogue on how utilities of the future can adapt to capture the greatest benefits for consumers and utilities without adversely impacting reliability, price, and power availability.

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Flexible Coal: Evolution from Baseload to Peaking Plant

December 2013
Twenty-first century power systems, with higher penetration levels of low-carbon energy, smart grids, and other emerging technologies, will favor resources that have low marginal costs and provide system flexibility (e.g., the ability to cycle on and off to follow changes in variable renewable energy plant output). Questions remain about both the fate of coal plants in this scenario and whether they can cost-effectively continue to operate if they cycle routinely. The experience from the CGS plant demonstrates that coal plants can become flexible resources.

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Market Evolution: Wholesale Electricity Market Design for 21st Century Power Systems

October 2013
This report reviews the suite of wholesale power market designs in use and under consideration to ensure adequacy, security, and flexibility in a landscape of significant variable renewable energy. It also examines considerations needed to ensure that wholesale market designs are inclusive of emerging technologies, such as demand response, distributed generation, and storage.

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Accelerating the Global Transformation to 21st Century Power Systems

July 2013
This report explains that nations and regions need to share lessons about the best ways to create enabling policies, regulations, and markets that get the most social benefit out of power systems and incent the necessary investments.

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Integrating Variable Renewable Energy in Electric Power Markets: Best Practices from International Experience (Research Highlights)

This fact sheet highlights a 2012 report on best practices to enable variable renewable energy grid integration. The report studies cases from Australia (South Australia), Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Spain, and the United States (Colorado and Texas), which have effectively integrated variable RE utilizing diverse approaches.

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