Assessing the prospects for renewable energy (RE)-enabling technologies

Client Organization: 
Project Location : 
Bonn, Germany
Summary of Project Idea: 

Goals & Objectives:

This project will review and establish the market outlook (i.e. the policy and regulatory environment, and the economic case) for a technology that enables more efficient and/or expansive renewable energy integration – e.g. battery storage, electric vehicles, microgrids, supergrids, smart meters, etc. General investigation of batteries – comparing and contrasting different country contexts and experiences – could be the best choice. Ideally, in addition to a market outlook for the chosen enabling technology, the project could also produce a collection of on-the-ground case studies, on the latest innovations in technology and business models implemented by countries, which are fostering the markets for different type of batteries; e,g, li-ion, advanced lead acid, flow batteries, etc. These case studies can be presented in a standardized template.

Theoretical Justification, Social Benefit, or Significance:

The large-scale integration of renewable energy technology into power systems may require the construction or expansion of innovative ‘enabling technologies’ such as battery storage, micro/supergrids, etc. Currently, the institutional, technological, and economic outlook for these technologies is highly incoherent, not only between but within markets (e.g. the existence of many different sources of revenue streams for battery storage, based on technology and policy context).

It is important to understand, and document case studies of, the latest innovations for battery markets, in order to assess how these innovations can be scaled up and replicated in many countries to enable VRE integration.

Creating an assessment framework to understand the institutional, technological, and economic factors important to such technologies – and performing a market outlook for such factors - can allow for a more transparent and supportive policy and investment environment.

Specific Activities & Duration:

Depending on geographic scope of the project (to be defined with the team), possible analyses include:

Identifying the relevant institutional, technological, and economic factors for the renewable-enabling technology

Providing an overview of the current outlook for those factors in one or more contexts

Establishing an assessment framework to establish the cost-effective deployment potential of renewable-enabling technology in a national context

Potentially work with single country/market as a case study

Other goals that could be pursued under an ambitious scenario:

High-level cost estimation of transition

Modelling the system dynamics of how renewable-enabling technologies can create feedback effects that foster greater adoption of VRE

Integrative Approach

Project would require interdisciplinary approach involving techno-economic and policy analysis (potentially information systems if geographical assessment is included).

SEAS Program Areas: 
Environmental Policy and Planning
Environmental Informatics
Sustainable Systems
Role for each program area: 

Understanding the place of renewable energy enabling technologies needs to be based in the different policy landscapes available in member states.  EPP students will be key in this part of the project.  EI students will be key in the understanding of geographically locked renewable energy sources and demand.  Finally, SS students will be required for technical analysis of the technologies considered.

Professional Career Development Benefits: 
  • An understanding of technical, institutional, and economic aspects power systems in the context of renewable energy expansion
  • Opportunities to make contacts and network with IRENA as well as the possibility to work with policy makers and practitioners from particular member states
Identify expected products/deliverables: 


  • A final report – with template to be provided by IRENA
  • Supporting Excel documents
  • A brief final presentation of results

ImplementationOutputs will be used to develop IRENA’s internal knowledge base, could potentially act as inputs to member country policy and investment, and could be published publically through IRENA   

Additional Faculty Advisor(s) and Department(s): 
Dr. Todd Levin (Argonne National Laboratory)
Contact full name: 
Daniel Russo
Job title: 
Junior Professional Associate – Planning for the Global Energy Transition
State or Country: 
SEAS Faculty Advisor: 
Jose Alfaro
Contact Phone: 
+49 22839179044
Contact e-mail: 
Contact information: 
Staff member of a potential client organization
Master Students Involved in Project: 

Ansha Zaman

Project Status: 
Past Project