The key insights and priorities for action from IIW18 are summarised in the Event Overview below and discussed further in the longer Event Summary and in the Session Summary Reports below.

Event Overview    Event Summary


A transformation of energy systems is underway worldwide, setting the course towards a more inclusive, secure, accessible, low-carbon and sustainable future. Renewable power, particularly from the variable renewable energy (VRE) sources of solar and wind, is central to that change.

Progress is being made, costs have fallen, and solutions are emerging. However, to ensure secure energy access and to tackle climate change, the pace needs to be far quicker. Delivering a renewable-powered future will require the cost-effective integration and expanded use of high shares of variable renewable energy.

IRENA Innovation Week 2018 (IIW18) was convened to explore some of the solutions needed to achieve this.

3 days of discussions
18 sessions over 3 tracks
Over 80 expert speakers
Over 350 participants
Over 70 countries

From 5 to 7 September 2018, delegates from more than 70 member countries of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) gathered in Bonn, Germany, for IRENA’s second Innovation Week. The diverse group of over 350 experts and decision makers from the public and private sectors met for three days, aiming to: showcase examples of innovative solutions from around the world; deepen their mutual understanding of the opportunities and challenges; and explore how to accelerate and broaden the uptake of solutions and so benefit many more countries.

Discussions focused on the latest developments in enabling technologies, business models, system operation and market design that are:

  • Enabling the much higher deployment of variable renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind;
  • Increasing the flexibility of power systems to integrate variable renewable generation at lower costs than present options;
  • Supporting the increased electrification of the end-use sectors of transport, industry and buildings, powered by renewable electricity.

Session Summaries


Welcoming address and introduction to digitalisation

This session introduced the objectives and format of IRENA Innovation Week; highlighted key insights from IRENA's work on this topic; and, provided an overview of digitalisation and decentralisation and their relevance to the global energy transformation.


Digital applications for the energy transition Blockchain

The discussion in this session aimed to cut through the hype and explore promising uses for blockchain technology, including: P2P power trade, managing flexibility at the grid edge, payments, renewable certificate issuance and trading, project financing; and others. The downsides and risks of distributed ledger technology were also examined.

Find key insights from the session in the summary document


Digital applications for the energy transition AI

This session explored various uses for AI including: generation and demand forecasting; system operation; generation flexibility; and infrastructure management. The risks associated with increased digitalisation – including cyber-security – as well as the resultant policy and regulatory requirements were also discussed.

Find key insights from the session in the summary document


The new consumer in the digital world

The growth of distributed electricity generation and storage technologies along with the widespread availability of smart devices have created new opportunities for consumers to engage in the energy transition and become more active players. This session highlighted the current business models and initiatives that are enabling consumers to play an active role in the power sector and unlock demand response. The discussions also explored the role of regulation in facilitating innovative business models that increase consumers' participation in power transition.

Find key insights from the session in the summary document


Broadening energy access

In the pursuit of universal access to energy, the emergence of major digital and physical innovations, technological advancements and market-driven financing instruments is disrupting energy markets. This session discussed how to support the development, deployment and dissemination of a broad range of innovative energy access solutions, and evaluate their relevance in the context of the global energy transformation.

Find key insights from the session in the summary document


Welcoming address and introduction to the electrification

This session: introduced the objectives and format of IRENA Innovation Week; highlighted key insights from IRENA’s work on this topic; provided an overview of electrification of transport, buildings and heating and their relevance to the global transformation.


Electrification of heat

This session discussed the role that power-to-heat technologies can play in enabling the integration of high shares of renewables in power systems. Experts highlighted real-world examples of the deployment of power-to-heat technologies and discussed what is still needed to improve technology and increase market penetration.

Find key insights from the session in the summary document


Electrification of transport

This session explored the links between the electrification of the transport sector and the integration of high shares of renewables in power systems. It highlighted how synergies between the two can help the world meet international climate goals. Progress in transport sector technologies (EVs, vehicle-to-grid and smart-charging) and how these innovations can transform the electricity system and play a key role in the integration of variable renewable energy sources into the grid were discussed.

Find key insights from the session in the summary document


Electricity storage

This session aimed to provide decision makers with a better understanding of the complexities of the next stage of the energy transition and its implications for policy, regulation and investment. The roundtable discussion involving a variety of experts on electricity storage technologies discussed the role of storage as well as the current state of battery energy storage systems deployment and use in various applications.

Find key insights from the session in the summary document


Electrification of fuels Hydrogen

The session discussed the potential to produce large amounts of hydrogen from renewable electricity and the linked challenges and opportunities for the power sector. The discussions showcased some of the ongoing projects that are exploring the viability of key applications for hydrogen in the transformation of the energy system.

Find key insights from the session in the summary document


Market design for an integrated renewable-based energy system

This session explored the origins of the current mismatches between the power system setup and the energy system the transition is aiming for, providing insight on the new paradigm requirements and discussing the characteristics of innovative market designs fit for supporting a renewable-based and integrated energy system and the transition towards it.


Empowering citizens Value challenges and implications

Different citizen’s empowerment initiatives are ongoing in the global North and global South, with different scopes and goals. However, important links and common ground exist between these initiatives, with 'fair transition' considerations weaving them together. This session facilitated a structured debate about the ‘whats’, ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ of citizen empowerment between different stakeholders in the power system.


Future grids – getting bigger and smaller

The discussion in this session focused on how grids are evolving in order to increase the share of renewable energy in the energy system. Solutions on different scales were discussed, from a global super grid, through regional connections to micro grid solutions. The factors influencing the development of bigger or smaller grids and their repercussion for the deployment of renewable energy and the necessary actions that need to be taken for the different concepts to co-exist were discussed.

Find key insights from the session in the summary document


Developing and deploying solutions for a renewable-powered future

This session brought together the three Innovation Week themes from the preceding two days. Senior speakers provided their perspectives on key emerging innovations, the impacts they are making and what is needed to accelerate and broaden their uptake. Rapporteurs reported back on highlights and key insights from the discussions in the three events tracks of Digitalisation & Decentralisation, Electrification and Markets & Citizens.


Perspectives on the transformative impacts of innovation

This session aimed to assist attendees in understanding the challenges and opportunities of innovation in the power-system by hearing from senior representatives from governments and major companies, who are trialling and adopting innovative approaches. Speakers highlighted examples of innovative approaches and projects, challenges they have faced, insights gained, the future potential for innovation and the actions needed to accelerate their adoption.


Senior-level roundtable discussion The transformative impacts of innovation

In this roundtable discussion senior representatives from public, private and research sectors debated, from diverse perspectives, the role of innovation in transforming energy systems. The discussion was built on previous presentations and feedback from the previous two days of discussions. The roundtable participants, discussed how innovations in digitalisation, decentralisation and electrification are disrupting established models of power system operation, how energy system actors can adapt and how further innovation can be encouraged and its uptake accelerated and broadened.

Presentation slides

Keynote Speakers and High-level Roundtable Discussants

HRH Princess Burkina Faso

Secretary General, European Energy Research Alliance (EERA) Belgium

Director-General IRENA

Chief Executive, German Energy Agency Germany

CEO, Statnett Norway

Chief Engineer, State Grid Corporation China and Director of National Power Dispatching & Control Center (NPDCC) China

Director of the Innovation and Technology Center in Bonn IRENA

Chief Innovability Officer, ENEL Italy

Chief Innovation Officer, ENTSO-E and Director Ecofys/Navigant Germany

Secretary General, EURELECTRIC Belgium

Senior Director Policy and Program Coordination, UNFCCC Secretariat Germany

Laboratory Director, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) United States

Executive Director, East African Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (EACREEE) Uganda

Deputy Director General in DG RTD Research and Innovation, European Commission Belgium

Director General, CanmetMATERIALS (CMAT) Canada

Policy Officer, European Commission Belgium

Deputy Director - Research Funding Programmes, CEA Liten France

Chief Digital Officer, Pöyry United Kingdom

Director-General, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Department Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE) Japan



Flexibility Manager, National Grid United Kingdom

Director General of Commerce, Industry and Labour Department, Fukushima Prefectural Government Japan

Founder, Kamangir The Netherlands

Founder & CEO, Brenmiller Energy Israel

Regional Director for Southeast Asia, Energy Action Partners Malaysia

Head of Operations, SOLshare Bangladesh

Executive Director, Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking Belgium

Director Business Innovation, sonnen GmbH Germany

Founder and CEO, Benoo Energies France

Director General for Electricity Market Analysis and Monitoring, Mexico Ministry of Energy Mexico

Chief Engineer, State Grid Corporation China and Director of National Power Dispatching & Control Center (NPDCC) China

Founder & CEO, EQuota Energy China

Asset Strategy Engineer, Westnetz GmbH Germany

Analyst, Grid Edge, Greentech Media United States

H21 Programme Director, Northern Gas Networks United Kingdom

Executive Director, Climate Policy Initiative United Kingdom

Director, SHURA Energy Transition Center Turkey

Expert, China Electric Power Research Institute (CEPRI) China

Senior specialist, China Electric Power Research Institute (CEPRI) China

Research Associate, Oxford Institute for Energy Studies United Kingdom

Head of Digitalization and Interconnectivity, Federal Network Agency of Germany Germany

Market Devolpment & Regulatory Affairs Manager, Energy Web Foundation United States

Director of Operations, Highview Power United Kingdom

Author, Commentator and Moderator United Kingdom

Director, Toyota Motor Europe Germany

Director Power Business Batteries, NGK Europe GmbH Germany

Head of Division International Cooperation, NOW GmbH National Organisation Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Germany

Strategy Manager Sustainable Energy VITO-EnergyVille Belgium

Founder and CEO, SOSAI Renewable Energies Nigeria

Senior Adviser, Finnish Energy Finland

CEO, Solar Power Europe Belgium

Chief Communications Officer, Next Krafwerke Germany

Africa Project Manager, GET-invest Belgium

Manager of National and Regional Control Centers, TenneT The Netherlands

President, Eurosolar Spain Spain

Program Manager for Policy and Regulatory Environment, GOGLA The Netherlands

Chief of Power Finance, e-Commerce Laboratory and R&D Department, State Grid e-Commerce Corporation China

Head of Regulatory and Public Affairs, Tiko Switzerland

Ex-CEO Energy Research Office, EPE Brazil

Chief Innovation Officer, GE Power Digital France

Head of Sales, BeeBryte S.A.S France

CTO Energy, Environment & Utilities Europe, IBM Germany

Chief Operating Officer, Strategen United States

Vice President of Integrated Grid, Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) United States

Deputy Head of Unit - Directorate General for Energy, European Commision Belgium

Regional Manager, EPRI International Switzerland

Senior Director Policy and Program Coordination, UNFCCC Secretariat Germany

Business Development, Industrial Solar GmbH Germany

Senior Energy Advisor, United States Department of State United States

Laboratory Director, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) United States

Head of Microgrid, Schneider Electric France

Executive Director, East African Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (EACREEE) Uganda

President, European Energy Retailers Italy

Energy Team Leader, UN Department of Economic and Social Affaris (UN DESA) United States

EV advocate, Founder & Director, Costa Rica Limpia Costa Rica

Head of Energy and Circular Economy, Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE) Sweden

Chief Commercial Officer, Sun Exchange South Africa

Representative in Europe, Sustainable Energy fund and Hydrocarbons Fund United Kingdom

CEO, Electron United Kingdom

Head of Unit for Renewables and CCS policy, European Commission Belgium

Head of Renewable Energy Unit, Federal Network Agency of Germany Germany

Director Gas Technology, TNO The Netherlands

Head of Hydrogen Center, Verbund Solutions GmbH Austria

Energy Solutions Campaigner, Greenpeace Spain Spain

Head of European Operations, Enel X Germany

Investment Officer, SunFunder Kenya

Chief Digital Officer, Pöyry United Kingdom

Vice President of Innovation, National Grid United Kingdom

Deputy General Manager - Energy Systems Division, Sumitomo Electric Industries Japan

Project Collaborator - System Initiative on Energy, World Economic Forum Germany

Co-founder, Sunna Design France

Secretary General, European Heat Pump Association Brussels

Executive Director, International Partnership for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells in the Economy (IPHE) Canada

Innovation and Entrepreneurship Manager, Chilean Solar Committee Chile

Head of Public and Industry Affairs, Danfoss Denmark

Chief Operations Officer, Allego Germany

Ambassador, International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) India

Senior Engineer, GE Power United Kingdom

Vice director of the Ministry of Science and Technology, State Grid Beijing Electric Power Company China

Head of Institute for Renewable Energy, Eurac Research Italy

Professor-level Senior Engineer, Jiangsu Frontier Electric Technology China

Past Events

  • Innovation Week 2016: The Age of Renewable Power
    Bonn, Germany 10 – 13 May 2016

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