EU PVSEC: Grid connection challenges can be overcome

Grid stability issues and concerns about the security of energy supply have long been fears raised about the increased integration of renewables, including photovoltaics, into Europe’s energy supply system. However these challenges can be overcome through the implementation of a range of technical and policy measures, according to a new report from the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA).

The report, "Connecting the Sun: Solar Photovoltaics on the Road to Large-Scale Grid Integration", was created by surveying network operators, both at transmission and distribution level, to gather real-world experiences and incorporates input from "external experts," and considers both normal and extreme weather condition scenarios.

"In many ways, photovoltaics is already providing grid-integration solutions," said EPIA’s President, Winfried Hoffmann, in a statement announcing the report’s release. "Photovoltaics is meeting a growing share of electricity demand at increasingly competitive cost without creating undue strain on the power system."

Looking towards the recommendations of the report, Hoffmann commented, "By making smart choices now to improve energy infrastructure, European policymakers can ensure that the EU’s ambitious energy and decarbonisation goals are met." The key recommendations are:

  • That there are no technical limits to large-scale photovoltaics;
  • Distribution system operators (DSOs) should implement strategies to make best use of existing photovoltaic systems;
  • A better match between production and consumption will ease further integration;
  • Increasing competitiveness of photovoltaics will allow for storage opportunities; and
  • Curtailment of photovoltaic production is a last resort.

In terms of policy, the report advocates the creation of a "continuum" among transmission system operators (TSO), DSOs and renewable energy generators; an increase in system flexibility; the implementation of a "new approach", to overcome bottlenecks in the grid; and to ensure "fair financing" of all players in the grid.

Hoffmann added that even the harshest critics of photovoltaics in Europe agree that it will become a major part of the continent’s energy mix of the future. "This makes it crucial to consider the implications of a growing penetration of PV on the electricity grid. With this study, we look at those implications, present realistic options for addressing them, and make clear policy recommendations aimed at facilitating the process."

pv magazine online will feature an exclusive interview with the report’s principal author, Gaëtan Masson. Also watch out for other news from the 27th EU PVSEC.