With the EU committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% below their 1990 levels by 2050, the lion’s share of the reduction will have to come from power generation because of the obstacles to CO2 reduction in other sectors. The EPIA report says that PV is already significantly integrated into the grid network and there are no technical limits to large-scale grid integration.
"People want solar power," says EPIA President, Winfried Hoffmann, in his foreword to the report, "And even its harshest critics in the conventional energy sectors will ultimately have to agree that under all scenarios envisioned in the coming decades, solar PV will be a major part of Europe’s (and the world’s) electricity mix thanks to its economic advantages. 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."
The report calls for close dialogue between EU governments, power distribution system operators (DSOs) and transmission system operators (TSOs) to ensure future investment in grid infrastructure will result in the flexibility required to harness the potential of PV and other renewables.
With the expansion of storage options, particularly on a local level, and demand side management through the changing of consumption habits, the EPIA says the complementary nature of PV and wind power means the two could supply 45% of the EU’s growing electricity needs by 2030.
Although the report accepts infrastructure adaptations will affect the competitiveness of PV, it points out the continuing fall in the price of PV system prices from up to 2.3/W today in the residential segment to a predicted 1.3/W in 2022 will ensure its economic viability. In relation to this observation the report calls for the incentivization of self-consumption with a demand that those self-consuming PV power should not be subject to grid costs and taxes.
The authors of the report, who interviewed network operators from DSOs and TSOs as well as external analysts, call for EU national authorities to examine storage deployment options on their territories by 2014 and want member states to come up with a roadmap identifying the measures needed to exploit flexibility in national grids by the following year.
"Solar PV has come a long way in a relatively short time," added Hoffmann, "But now we must consider the steps that will allow us to take full advantage of its enormous potential."