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An eclipse-proof power grid with a lot of solar power

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The European experiences from the solar eclipse on 20 March have now been transformed in to clear guidelines for at future with large scale solar power in the distribution net.

On 20 March Europe experiences the first solar eclipse, which could potentially jeopardise the security of supply for the power system. The large amount of solar PV in the European system (mainly in Germany and Italy) created large variation in the distributed generation during the solar eclipse, but the power system as such were not negatively influenced by the rapid variations. The European organisation for grid operators, ENTSO-E, has now together with Solar Power Europe analysed the situation on 20 March and wrapped their findings up in a series of recommendation for the future power system in the report “Solar eclipse March 2015: The Successful Stress Test of Europe’s Power Grid – More Ahead”. These recommendations are also highly interested in a Chinese context because of the high ambitions for distributed solar PV generation in the China grid.

Solar power production in Europe 20 March 2015. From the report.

Solar power production in Europe 20 March 2015. From the report.

Five key conclusion for the future

The report from ENTSO-E and Solar Power Europe summarises the findings in five key recommendation for the future:

1) Common network codes are vital for a strong, sustainable and cost-efficient power grid. Europe has work for several years to set up a comprehensive set of harmonised network codes for all countries, including network codes which allows for more and more decentralised and variable energy sources safely access to the transmission grid.

2) Regional security coordination between countries should be in place. The European grid operators have established regional coordination initiatives, which can plan and operate the grid more secure than the individual operators are able to do.

3) The customers should also be flexible in their demand. Demand-side response and time dynamic prices for electricity are cost-efficient ways to balance the power system load and generation and also optimises the utilisation of infrastructure and investment in the grid.

4) Empowered solar PV can have contributed to the solution. The distributed solar PV systems can contribute significantly to the power system security by delivering services to the grid like frequency control and voltage control. The network codes should reflect these potentials to ensure that the PV system are design to deliver these services.

5) A clear interface between the distribution and the transmission grid. The future will give much more power generation on the distribution level and the interlink and data exchange between the distribution grid and the transmission grid are very important for the integration of these resources.

The lessons for China is mainly the same as for Europe. First priority is clear and future oriented network codes for connection of distributed generation, for integration into the transmission grid and for delivering frequency and voltage services to the grid. But also development of the demand-side response should have high priority.

Download the report here.