SMA joins research study on balancing power with PV

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SMA Solar Technology AG is partnering with GEWI AG and the Institute for High Voltage Technology and Electrical Energy Systems (elenia) of the Technische Universität Braunschweig to conduct a joint research project investigating how photovoltaic systems can provide balancing power for the stability of power grids in the future.

The goal of the study is to develop suitable technical solutions for PV systems ranging from small private systems to large-scale solar power plants and to demonstrate their feasibility in a field test. SMA is coordinating the PV-Regel project, which runs until July 2017 and has a budget of some €3 million.

The four German transmission system operators, Amprion, TenneT, TransnetBW and 50Hertz, have signed on as associate partners. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is funding the research under its Sustainable Power Grids initiative.

"With an increasing share of renewable energies in power generation, renewables have to take over responsibility for the system and for stabilizing the power grid," SMA said in a statement. "Providing balancing power as needed to maintain grid frequency is a central aspect of this. The partners of this joint project want to study the principles of providing balancing power with photovoltaics, particularly on an international level, and to develop economically optimal requirement profiles for the future provision of balancing power with photovoltaics."

Roland Grebe, SMA board member for Technical Innovation, added, "Even today, photovoltaic systems are already fully involved in grid management. The potential for even greater involvement in the future is significant."

Other project goals include developing innovative concepts for solar power plants to provide balancing power and testing a megawatt-class battery inverter capable of providing an instant reserve. With regard to small-scale plants, the goal is to develop and evaluate "practical system solutions" to balance power using hundreds, and eventually thousands, of decentralized and pooled photovoltaic systems.

In addition to the PV-Regel research project, SMA is working with partners from science and industry in government-sponsored projects focusing on other key issues regarding grid integration of PV and innovative solutions for the energy transition. These include the contribution of PV systems to voltage maintenance, to reactive power management and to transient grid stability as well as the role of PV in grid restoration, the integration of batteries and intelligent energy management solutions. The goal is to develop a new generation of cost-optimized PV systems that ensure supply reliability and system stability in the decentralized and 100% renewable energy supply of the future, SMA says.