Report finds solar intermittency can be overcome

While the Australian solar market has evolved at two speeds – the residential market grew quickly under generous state-based FITs, while power plants have been slow to develop – the country of only around 20 million people has added well over one gigawatt (GW) of installed capacity in recent years. However, concerns have been raised that too much additional photovoltaic capacity will cause grid instability because of the intermittent nature of supply.

A new report released today from the CSIRO has demonstrated that while these fears are genuine, the challenges posed by solar’s intermitted supply can be overcome.

The report entitled Solar intermittency: Australia’s clean energy challenge has been made freely available. It’s key findings were:

– The challenges posed by intermittency can be "fixed" using solar forecasting and energy management systems.- Customized approaches need to be applied as different areas, countries and regions require different solutions. As such, the report suggests local research and demonstration programs should be fostered. In terms specifically of Australia, that the country has a unique electricity network.- A highly flexible electricity grid is needed. It must adapt to the requirements of renewable energy including photovoltaics. First Solar building the first Australian PV power plants

The report has come only days after the Australian Federal Government announced that it had selected First Solar to design, supply and construct the country’s first two large-scale photovoltaic power plants. Together the plants will be worth 159 megawatts (MW).

First Solar will supply and build the plants on behalf of AGL Energy Limited. The project is a part of the government’s troubled Solar Flagships program, which sees state and federal governments assisting in funding the first major photovoltaic power plants in the country.

First Solar is also currently constructing the largest photovoltaic power plant in Australia, a 10 MW plant in Western Australia.

At the Intersolar Munich, First Solar’s Christopher Burghardt told pv magazine that the company’s expansion into Australia is an important step in its internationalization strategy.