Meteocontrol solar eclipse analysis reveals German grid durability

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The impact of the solar eclipse that plunged much of northern Europe into semi-daytime-darkness last month was largely mitigated by Germany’s national grid, according to data released by weather and solar power forecast analysis company, meteocontrol.

The Augsburg, Germany-headquartered monitoring firm has published data that shows how the solar eclipse sent the level of solar power feeding the German grid tumbling from 13 GW to just 5 GW in just 45 minutes.

However, as reported live at the time by pv magazine, the grid was registering 20 GW of solar PV a mere 20 minutes later – solid proof that not only is Germany’s grid capable of handling these fluctuations, but also a reminder of the importance of solar power to the nation’s energy mix.

The nature of the eclipse, in that grid operators knew when and for how long it would occur, helped Germany’s grid to prepare, and it is such precise forecasting that enabled the country to ensure alternative energy sources and backup power was at the ready.

"Our findings show that what Germany experienced on March 20 equates to the output of eight nuclear power plants that are cut off from the grid within an extremely short period of time," said one of meteocontrol’s two MDs, Robert Pfatischer. "This volatility, however, should not endanger the grid at all if one is able to predict it in advance as we have, and ensure backup supply."

As the moon shuttled across the sun, most parts of Germany experienced a 66 to 83% eclipse, which posed a major and unprecedented challenge to the 1.4 million PV systems plugged into the grid. Meteocontrol says that its forecast data proved particularly useful for energy trading companies eager to monitor and understand what was happening.

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