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Let RMI Be Your Guide to the Global Energy Transformation

RMI shares lessons learned from electricity system leaders around the globe.

When it comes to the energy transition, advanced economies have just as much to learn from emerging markets and developing economies as vice versa. That’s a key takeaway from RMI’s first-of-its-kind effort to assess new developments in securing universal access to reliable, affordable, and clean electricity across the globe — spanning over 50 countries.

And that’s why — just ahead of COP 27 — we’re releasing the first three reports in our Global Energy Transformation Guide: Electricity. With an interactive map highlighting innovative projects, policies, and markets around the world and a series of reports, RMI has documented points of progress by identifying key trends, exploring emerging challenges and opportunities, and sharing success stories from electricity system leaders worldwide.

These three reports are the first in a nine-part series that will illuminate the mix of business models, regulatory innovations, technology advances, and financial solutions that are succeeding globally to speed up the energy transition while expanding energy access and promoting sustainable development.

Spotlights from around the World

Key spotlights we profile in the first stage of our interactive guide include the creation of a new regional electricity market in Africa’s Sahel region; innovative strategies to transition away from coal power purchase agreements in Chile; the ways in which Kenya is leading among developing economies by going all-in on renewable energy; and how Canada and Germany have provided a model for stakeholder-driven approaches to pursue a just transition for fossil fuel communities.

Many more case studies will be spotlighted in the coming months as the rest of RMI’s guide is made public.

Learning from Others

RMI undertook this work to support leaders searching for guidance on how to simultaneously expand energy access and promote sustainable development while decarbonizing their power sectors.

Delivering affordable, reliable, and secure access to electricity, while also meeting the world’s climate targets, requires a transformation in the ways electricity is supplied, delivered, and used across the globe. No two countries’ energy transitions will be the same, because each country has diverse needs, priorities, and resources requiring different trajectories and tailored solutions. However, no one country should have to chart their own path in a silo.

What we’ve found is that there are a growing number of points of progress across all six continents that can help guide and inspire the work ahead. The rapid warming of our planet does not afford us the time to reinvent the wheel, but requires us to build off prior successes, learn from past mistakes, and scale innovations throughout the global power sector.

RMI’s Seven Outcomes to Measure Electricity Transformation

To guide regional, national, and local decision makers as they achieve climate alignment and other power sector priorities, we have identified seven universal outcomes that can be used as indicators of progress toward a successful transition of the electricity system.

These seven outcomes represent critical objectives that industry leaders will be required to consider and plan for in policy, regulations, and investments. They are anchored to three primary goals: 1) ensuring a fair and inclusive energy transition, 2) creating a system poised for sustainable growth, and 3) increasing the efficient utilization of clean energy assets.simple circle

RMI’s Eight High-Impact “Catalysts for Change” for Decision Makers

To support industry leaders in pursuit of these seven outcomes, RMI has identified eight “catalysts for change” that represent high-impact levers available to decision makers around the world. These catalysts represent a wide range of solutions and reflect areas of the electricity ecosystem where innovation is necessary to break through political, technical, and economic constraints.

The Global Energy Transformation Guide: Electricity series is structured to focus on these eight catalysts. Each report provides more detailed discussion on where the innovation edge is for each, and where leadership is needed most. Our research included interviews with over 85 experts from across the globe, including utilities, regulators, businesses, system operators, customers, and academics to understand the drivers of innovation in different geographies.

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Exploring Market Structures and Fossil Fuel Transition Strategies

The first two catalyst areas we explore in detail are market structures and fossil fuel transition strategies. The best window into these solutions is on our interactive map which spotlights key case studies. 

  1. Market Structures
    The design and rules of wholesale, retail, and local electricity markets impact which, when, and how resources are purchased, sold, and utilized by system operators. Markets can generate efficient pricing for energy, capacity, and other ancillary grid services. Today, expanding and maturing markets are supporting investment in generation and grid infrastructure, putting new stress on the economics of coal, and improving the economics of renewables. In response, market parameters can evolve to support electricity reliability and affordability as systems accommodate higher levels of variable and distributed energy resources.
  2. Fossil Fuel Transition Strategies
    Due to declining costs, technological advances, and rising energy security concerns, renewable energy has recently usurped coal and gas as the lowest-cost way to reliably power most countries’ economies. This cost advantage has been even more pronounced in the past year given the significant volatility in fossil fuel prices due to Russia’s war in Ukraine. To reliably transition the existing coal fleet, minimize the buildout of new gas, and mitigate customer and community impacts, utilities and governments can take advantage of new financing and re-investment opportunities that can help ease and de-risk the transition to clean energy.

Countries’ pathways to a rapid and equitable electricity system transformation will require a diverse set of interventions to advance power sector priorities. The challenge ahead will require creativity and collaboration to reimagine how electricity is generated, delivered, and managed to meet the needs of a growing and evolving population. It will require economies to come together to leverage one another’s comparative advantages and to continuously expand the solution space.

The points of progress and stories of success featured across the Global Energy Transformation Guide: Electricity highlight important opportunities to spur change across different levers of the electricity system that can help guide and inspire the transformation that lies ahead.