‘Integrating renewables into the grid efficiently’

Energy expert Manuel San Pablo on the important role of digital tools in the Dominican Republic’s energy transition.

Manuel San Pablo, General Manager at the Coordinating Body of the Interconnected National Electric System in the Dominican Republic. © OC-SENI

Mr San Pablo, how have digital tools supported the energy transition?
Firstly, we’ve developed a digital forecasting system for wind and solar power generation. This supplies us with a continuous stream of data about the entire energy grid and the weather. With this we can calculate electricity generation with great accuracy and integrate renewables into the grid with greater stability. Secondly, our Organismo Coordinador (OC) app enables anyone who is interested – whether from the scientific community, the media or the general public – to see in Spanish and English how much electricity the country is consuming, and the share of renewables used at any given moment. The app also shows the trend in greenhouse gas emissions in the Dominican Republic. The tools were developed with the support of GIZ.

What do you want to achieve with these tools?
Reliable forecasting is very important for efficient planning. Output from solar and wind fluctuates considerably, so it still has to be backed up by fossil energy sources. The better we can predict and plan for their variability, the more we can save on fossil energy costs. The tool has enabled us to reduce fluctuations by 35 percentage points, from 40 to five. This saves us money, since we burn a lot less fossil fuel. One of the aims of the app is to improve the public’s understanding of electricity generation and its environmental impact.

Have these tools also helped you to overcome opposition to renewable energies?
It’s true, there were misgivings to begin with – even among the experts – because of the difficulty of planning with any certainty for wind and solar generation. Some had concerns that the system would be overwhelmed. With smart planning, we have shown that these energies can be managed and fed into the grid efficiently. For example, many thought that renewable energy seemed like a very expensive investment for a developing country like the Dominican Republic. But thanks to renewables, we are no longer as dependent on the global market for raw materials. The app has also helped to create transparency.

May 2022