Solar helps stabilise electric grids

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SolarPower Europe has launched its “Grid Intelligent Solar – Unleashing the Full Potential of Utility-Scale Solar Generation” report, which shows that solar is not only the lowest cost power source in many regions and crucial to meet EU climate targets, but also a reliable partner that helps to keep the grid stable and supports Europe’s security of supply.

Solar PV has transitioned from being a renewable energy option to the responsible energy option. This report points to the fact that utility-scale solar PV provides grid reliability and flexibility services that are even more effective than conventional power plants in some cases, if the project is designed inclusive of advanced plant controls.

SolarPower Europe anticipates in its Global Market Outlook 2018-2022 a 2-digit market growth in Europe in the coming years. Solar is ready to play a major role in the European Union meeting its 32% renewables target by 2030. In its New Energy Outlook 2018, Bloomberg NEF expects an 87% renewables scenario in 2050 in Europe, with 1,400 GW of solar installed, contributing to around 36% of total power generation. The bulk of solar, over two thirds, is expected to come from utility scale power plants.

Today’s leading EU solar markets have missed to tap the potential of utility-scale solar so far – tendered solar capacities are usually too small, regulatory frameworks are often inadequate to support the huge demand of corporate power sourcing from large-scale solar. This needs to be fixed to enable the over 1,100% solar capacity growth to 1,400 GW in 2050 forecasted by Bloomberg from 114 GW end of 2017 in Europe.

In order to prepare for large-scale adoption of solar power, advanced solar markets need to leave the solar 1.0 phase behind, when utility-scale PV plants have mostly been installed with the intention to maximise individual system yields. It is now about solar 2.0 – that’s grid flexible solar PV plants integrated into the energy system.

With the right market design, utility-scale solar is ready to support Europe’s security of supply, with a stronger accuracy than conventional generation assets – such as coal and gas.

While solar can already achieve significant grid penetration economically without storage, quickly decreasing stationary battery cost enables the solar 3.0 phase, where storage provides dispatchable solar capacity. The report provides case studies about the first utility-scale solar projects with battery storage that provide ancillary and other grid services.

Source: SolarPower Europe