Drones assist with inspections, allowing workers to safely view and assess the damage. Using drones can reduce the need for multiple bucket trucks and allow the utility company to gather video feed information for additional analysis that can be used to optimize repairs.


Preparing for Continued Renewable Generation Growth

Renewable generation has matured rapidly from a technical novelty to a cornerstone in the evolving power industry.

Stakeholders including utility leaders, government/regulatory officials, and private sector developers are seeking solutions to allow the continued development of an extensive array of maturing renewable energy options. ABB’s energy experts believe that viable solutions will include effective long-term planning, strategic investment in key areas of the power industry and smart grid management on a broad scale.

T&D World worked with ABB experts to create this interactive guide highlighting issues stakeholders must address to advance renewables. You’ll find an infographic laying out the complexities involved with advancing renewables to a Q&A with one of ABB’s industry experts, a new white paper addressing the challenges of modernizing the grid, a video gallery and links to valuable resources such as research and case studies that succinctly illustrate real-live examples and viable solutions.


As shown in this infographic from ABB, renewable generation is growing at an unprecedented rate, representing both a significant opportunity and a major challenge for today’s grid owner-operators world-wide.

As renewables continue to lead our new generation mix, curtailment threatens realization of the potential benefits they can provide. Resolution of this dilemma requires new transmission because the majority of expected long-term renewables growth will be large-scale development connected to the transmission system. The details and possible solutions surrounding the saturation effects resulting from renewables oversupply are detailed in the “Modernizing the Grid” white paper.

Renewable generation will continue to grow over the next decade based on two drivers. The first driver is the levelized cost of energy for renewable generation continues to drop for both wind and solar. The second driver is that the pathways for greenhouse gas reduction will require increasing amounts of renewable generation. More announcements by states, cities, and utilities have a carbon-free target by 2050. Although distributed energy resources will be part of the renewable energy penetration, utility-scale resources will continue to represent the majority of the renewable growth. Replacing carbon-based thermal generation with renewable generation plus meeting the expected growth in demand from electrification will drive the growth in renewables.

  • Studies of the grid show that there is a saturation effect as more renewable generation assets are connected to the grid. This saturation effect is determined by measuring the ratio of actual MWHs generated and supplied to the grid versus the available MWHs that could have been supplied by the resource.
  • This effect becomes more apparent when the percentage of renewable generation exceeds 50%. There are two components that contribute to this saturation effect.
  • The first is the location of the renewable generation.
  • The second is the impact of new renewable generation resources on the grid operational security and stability.
  • Other factors are the coordination of renewable generation with other centralized generation resources and the ability to shape demand to match the available renewable generation.

Shaping end user demand is a great way to increase the utilization of renewable generation and to promote its growth. This opportunity is important because renewable generation is not dispatch-able and load shaping. This is a component of demand response, and an effective way to match load to the generation. This load shaping allows additional renewable generation to be connected to the grid without having to curtail these resources.

Ask the Expert

Gary Rackliffe, ABB
Vice President, Smart Grids & Grid Modernization
General Manager, Smart Grid Center of Excellence

Gary’s duties put him at the center of critical developments and discussions across the power industry, so T&D World asked him some key questions to help industry stakeholders understand the renewable energy issues faced by utilities. Read full bio.

Optimizing the economic and environmental benefits of advanced renewables, while maintaining integrity, must be strategic and intentional.

A new white paper from ABB, “Meeting the challenge of modernizing the grid to stabilize the integration of renewable energy”, provides valuable insights into the expected continued growth of renewable generation and what utilities can do to prepare.

The white paper explains that significant utility-scale renewables investment will be essential to reach the renewable portfolio standards and related goals being established. However, renewables investment alone will be insufficient without strategic transmission investment in new capacity and system optimizing technologies, including battery storage. Finally, ABB predicts that utilities will turn to demand management and load shaping to maximize the economic and environmental benefits of renewables as their percentages grow relative to conventional generation.

Video Gallery

Further your knowledge regarding renewables technology, strategy and case studies by watching the curated videos below.

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Case Study: Aruba
ABB microgrid powers up the island of Aruba and integrates renewable energy to help them reach their commitment to making the island 100% fossil fuel free by 2020.
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Case Study: Kodiak Island
The remote Kodiak Island now produces more than 99% of its electricity from renewables after integrating microgrid.
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Case Study: Robben Island
Robben Island, South Africa connects microgrid for sustainable energy to become an exemplar of the clean-energy future.
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ABB Ability™ Solution for Renewables
Learn how the ABB Ability™ Solution for Renewables provides a highly accurate energy forecast, combining IBM Watson AI, Weather Company data and operational data from ABB.
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ABB Delivers DolWin2 Wind Connection
High voltage DC link connects offshore wind farms to the mainland grid, and has the capacity to supply more than a million households with renewable energy.
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Grid modernization is a high priority of nearly every utility today.

Most companies are somewhere along the path of integrating sensors and smart grid technology into their systems as they strive to keep pace with the digital transformation that is changing the power industry. This paper provides a detailed “Digital Maturity Curve” to allow power industry professionals assess their progress in the transformation and compare their position, using benchmarks from a 150-utility survey, to the progress the industry is making. Get insights and tips from this detailed study to help ensure your digital transformation is on track to achieve the long-term business objectives, regulatory accountability and customer responsiveness you desire.

“A digital utility will be transformed from a 20th century analog business to an enterprise that can communicate, monitor, compute, and control grid and customer operations with real-time intelligence and situational awareness.” – Building the 21st Century Grid

Learn more about ABB’s renewable grid solutions by visiting their digital grid resource page or connecting with an expert.