Austrian smart grid project to see 120 new PV systems installed

It is believed that by the end of 2015, 6,000 new solar power systems will be connected to Austria’s grid each year. To deal with this, a pilot project is underway in Eberstalzell – where Austria’s largest photovoltaic research power station is also based. The idea is to create a control concept for an active, low-voltage grid.

AIT told pv magazine that the DG DemoNet Smart LV Grid project’s objective is to "enable an efficient and cost effective use of existing grid infrastructures for DER integration based on a three-step concept." This concept will encompass intelligent planning, on-line monitoring and active LV grid management.

To achieve its goal, communication-based systems for automatic control concepts for low voltage grids will be developed and evaluated by putting them into practice in three different field tests, focusing on three different use cases, added AIT. These are:

  • Upper Austria: Linz Strom Netz GmbH

    Use case: "Intelligent planning and smart monitoring"

    Verification of the probabilistic planning method by measurements in a grid with a high penetration of photovoltaics.

    No network area has yet been selected. However, around 15 photovoltaic units worth approximately 70 kilowatts (kW) will be installed.

  • Upper Austria: Energie AG Oberösterreich Netz GmbH

    Use case: "Smart sensing and coordinated generation control"

    Testing of the control and monitoring solutions in a grid with high a penetration of photovoltaics, based on smart metering communication infrastructure.

    A specific LV network area has been selected, where around 400 kW will be installed, via approximately 70 photovoltaic units.

  • Salzburg: Salzburg Netz GmbH

    Use case: "Smart sensoring and coordinated load control"

    Examination of the effectiveness of the control and monitoring solutions in a grid with a high penetration of photovoltaics, linked with a high penetration of electric vehicles.

    A specific LV network area has been selected. Around 125 kW will be installed via roughly 30 photovoltaic units.

Work on the roughly 120 photovoltaic systems will be carried out by local installers in 2012. The modules will also be supplied by local partners. Meanwhile, Fronius will provide the inverters needed for the approximately 70 photovoltaic systems under the Energie AG Oberösterreich Netz GmbH case.

"This test grid will enable us to control the devices within it. Existing control functions in the inverter can be modified and optimised from a higher-level grid controller, transforming a low-voltage system into a Smart Grid," commented Martin Heidl of Fronius System Technology.

Overall, the project is estimated to cost around €5 million. Of this, €1 million of funding will be provided by the government of Upper Austria, €0.3 million will come from the government of Salzburg, and €2.2 million will come from the Austrian Climate and Energy fund. Additionally, private investments will be made from the photovoltaic system operators.

According to the International Energy Agency’s Photovoltaic Power System Programme, at the end of 2010, Austria had an installed photovoltaic capacity of 95.5 megawatts (MW). A spokesperson for Fronius added that, for this year, around 60 MWp has been added, and 100 MWp is expected for 2012. They went on to say that installation costs last year were between €3,300 and €3,800 per kWp. While there are no detailed figures available for 2011, AIT said they will be "significantly" lower.