Polish grid operator switches off gigawatts of PV

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Grid operator PSE is struggling to manage Poland's growing share of PV and has ordered the third curtailment of renewable energy capacity within a month.

“Due to the oversupply of generation in the National Power System and the need to restore the regulatory capabilities of the National Power System, PSE is introducing a non-market reduction in the generation of photovoltaic sources on March 26, 2024,” PSE said in a brief statement this week.

It has announced three one-hour curtailments of 1,201 MW, 1,877 MW and 1,711 MW from 11:00 am to 2 pm.

This is the grid operator's third renewable energy curtailment this year. All of them have taken place in March, with the latest one specifically referring to PV installations alone.

On Tuesday morning of this week, around 10 am, photovoltaics produced and fed 9.7 GWh of electricity into the grid, according to the energy.insrat.pl portal. This represented around 45% of the total electricity production in the country, making solar the nation's biggest energy source, followed by coal at around 27%.

In April 2023, PSE disconnected solar for the first time ever, as the nation's rapidly expanding PV fleet had outpaced grid upgrades. It declared an official threat to grid security due to the oversupply of renewable energy, and ordered solar and wind facilities to disconnect temporarily.

“We need to invest some 500 billion zlotys ($126 billion) in transmission and distribution grids by 2040,” PSE Chief Executive Tomasz Sikorski said at the time, adding that the country needs to time grid upgrades so that they are finalized in sync with the growth of the nation's renewable fleet.

Poland generates about 70% of its power from coal, but its new energy strategy envisages 74% of energy coming from zero-emission sources, including renewables and nuclear power.

Poland's cumulative installed PV capacity hit 12.4 GW at the end of 2022, making it Europe's third biggest solar market after Germany and Spain.

By the end of the third quarter of 2023, the country had 18 GW of solar PV projects with grid connection approvals, according to Polish research group Instytut Energetyki Odnawialnej (IEO).

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