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Effectiveness of Policies and Strategies to Increase the Capacity Utilisation of Intermittent Renewable Power Plants


  • David Benatia

    (University of Montreal)

  • Nick Johnstone


  • Ivan Haščič



Intermittent renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, will become increasingly important in the electricity supply mix if ambitious renewable energy targets are to be met. This paper presents evidence on the effectiveness of different strategies and measures to increase the capacity utilisation of wind and other intermittent renewable energy plants. As countries progress towards more ambitious renewables penetration objectives, it is essential that the installed capacity does not end up idle and the investment ‘wasted’. The analysis is based on data for 31 OECD countries over the period 1990- 2009. Wind speed, dispatchable power, transmission capacity and energy storage are found to have positive and significant impacts on capacity utilisation. For example, if domestic grids are poorly refurbished European countries will have to invest an additional USD 38 billion worth of investment in wind power generating capacity by 2020 in order to meet the EU renewables objectives. Cross-border electricity trade is also found to have a positive impact on wind power plant capacity utilisation, albeit only at the high end of historic levels of penetration. Up to USD 25 billion worth of investment in wind power capacity by 2020 could be avoided – while still meeting the objectives – if electricity trade within the European Union is enhanced. Les énergies renouvelables intermittentes telles que l’éolien et le solaire doivent occuper une place de plus en plus importante dans le parc électrique pour que les ambitieux objectifs qui les concernent soient atteints. Ce rapport apporte des éléments d’information sur l’efficacité de diverses stratégies et mesures destinées à améliorer le coefficient d’utilisation des centrales exploitant l’énergie éolienne ou d’autres énergies renouvelables intermittentes. À l’heure où les pays tendent vers des objectifs de pénétration des énergies renouvelables plus ambitieux, il importe que la puissance installée ne soit pas inemployée ni les investissements « gaspillés ». L’analyse s’appuie sur des données de 31 pays de l’OCDE entre 1990 et 2009. Elle montre que la vitesse du vent, la puissance « dispatchable », les capacités de transport et le stockage de l’énergie ont un impact positif substantiel sur le coefficient d’utilisation des centrales éoliennes. Par exemple, s’ils ne rénovent pas suffisamment leurs réseaux nationaux, les pays européens devront investir 38 milliards USD de plus dans ces centrales d’ici 2020 pour atteindre les objectifs de l’Union européenne concernant les énergies renouvelables. Les échanges internationaux d’électricité ont également un effet positif sur le coefficient d’utilisation des centrales éoliennes, même si cet effet n’est sensible qu’au-delà du taux de pénétration maximum atteint jusqu’à présent. Si les échanges d’électricité au sein de l’Union européenne étaient renforcés, il serait possible d’économiser jusqu’à 25 milliards USD d’investissement dans la puissance éolienne installée d’ici 2020 – tout en satisfaisant aux objectifs fixés.

Suggested Citation

  • David Benatia & Nick Johnstone & Ivan Haščič, 2013. "Effectiveness of Policies and Strategies to Increase the Capacity Utilisation of Intermittent Renewable Power Plants," OECD Environment Working Papers 57, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:envaaa:57-en

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    Cited by:

    1. Nuno Carvalho Figueiredo & Patrícia Pereira da Silva & Pedro Cerqueira, 2014. "The Renewables Influence on Market Splitting: the Iberian Spot Electricity Market," GEMF Working Papers 2014-14, GEMF, Faculty of Economics, University of Coimbra.
    2. Victoria Shestalova & Chiara Criscuolo & Nick Johnstone & Carlo Menon, 2014. "Renewable energy policies and cross-border investment: evidence from M&A in solar and wind energy," CPB Discussion Paper 288, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
    3. Figueiredo, Nuno Carvalho & Silva, Patrícia Pereira da & Cerqueira, Pedro A., 2016. "It is windy in Denmark: Does market integration suffer?," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 115(P2), pages 1385-1399.

    More about this item


    electricity trade; grid integration; intermittence; intermittency; intégration au réseau; renewable energy; wind power; échanges d’électricité; énergie renouvelable; énergie éolienne;

    JEL classification:

    • Q4 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy
    • Q42 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Alternative Energy Sources
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy

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