Role of Smart Grids in Integrating Renewable Energy

Bethany Speer, Mackay Miller, Walter Schaffer, Leyla Gueran, Albrecht Reuter, Bonnie Jang, Karin Widegren

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


Flexible, strong, and smart grids play a crucial role in the integration of variable renewable energy (RE). As high levels of variable RE penetration become increasingly common across power systems, attention to grid operations and planning becomes more important. Smart grid technologies offer new options for integrating variable RE, yet technology is not the only important area of focus - innovative policy, regulation, and business models are needed to incentivize and implement next-generation grid architectures. This discussion paper explores the intersection of smart grid technology, policy, and regulation from a non-technical point of view, focusing on some specific questions relevant for decision makers: 1) What are the challenges of integrating variable RE into power grids? 2) What types of smart grid solutions are emerging to integrate variable RE? 3) What are good examples from around the world of smart grids aiding in the integration of variable RE? 4) What types of policy and regulatory approaches are emerging to support smart grid solutions in relation to RE? Based on emerging case studies from around the world, this discussion paper concludes that smart grids offer solutions to various challenges associated with variable RE, including providing additional flexibility, unlocking demand side participation, and deferring more costly grid upgrades.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages18
StatePublished - 2015

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-6A20-63919


  • Austria
  • Canada
  • case study
  • Korea
  • renewable energy integration
  • smart grids
  • Sweden
  • United States
  • variable renewable energy
  • wind power


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