In a blog post on Vox, David Roberts explores how much variable renewable energy can reasonably be integrated into our current energy system and concludes that changes in rules and markets—including the recommendations in RAP’s Power Market Operations and System Reliability in the Transition to a Low-Carbon Power Systemare generally the cheapest solutions. Mr. Roberts posits that many of the market rules and flexibility solutions already exist, but lack the political will to make the necessary changes.

RAP’s “beyond capacity markets” approach suggests that the power system will need resources capable of rapidly changing output or flexing demand frequently and continuously throughout the year in response to the energy available from rising shares of variable renewable resources (e.g, wind and solar). While system reliability has never been solely a matter of the quantity of resources, the answer to the question ‘how much?’ increasingly depends upon the answer to the question ‘what type?’. RAP’s market design recommendations aim to enable an affordable, reliable transition to a power system with a large share of renewable energy. Key recommendations include, a) minimize the need to increase resource flexibility, b) tap the potential for demand-side flexibility, and c) make the value of resource flexibility more visible.