Grid Intelligent Solar – Unleashing the Full Potential of Utility-Scale Solar Generation

SolarPower Europe’s ‘Grid Intelligent Solar – Unleashing the Full Potential of Utility-Scale Solar Generation in Europe’ report, 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.

SolarPower Europe anticipates 2-digit market growth in Europe in the coming years. Solar has the potential to play a major role in the European Union meeting its 32% renewables target by 2030. Bloomberg NEF, in its New Energy Outlook 2018, anticipates that renewables will cover 87% of Europe’s electricity generation by 2050 in Europe, in which 1.4 TW of solar is installed and contributes to 36% of total power generation. Over two thirds of this solar energy is expected to come from utility scale power plants.

Increasing solar capacity growth 12 fold, to about 1,400 GW from the 114 GW installed in Europe at the end of 2017, will require much more utility-scale PV to unleash this untapped potential. Advanced solar markets need to leave the world of Solar 1.0 behind, when utility-scale PV plants were installed to maximize individual system yields. We are now entering Solar 2.0 – grid flexible PV plants integrated in the energy system.

With the right market design, solar can already provide cost-effective flexible capacity that supports supply and demand balancing, as well as flexibility and grid reliability services, such as frequency regulation or ramp control. While solar is economically attractive enough to achieve significant grid penetration without storage, the dramatic decrease in stationary battery cost takes us into the world of Solar 3.0, where storage provides firm dispatchable solar capacity.

The report was initiated by First Solar and produced by SolarPower Europe with support from BayWa, Tesla and SMA with the aim of providing facts and figures about the benefits of utilising low-cost utility-scale solar to keep the European grid stable and reliable for the European Union to meet its 2030 renewable energy targets.

Key findings in tweets

New EU market design requires #grid stability, flexibility, and supply and demand balancing. Utility-scale #solar meets these demands, with the technology available today at a cost that is lower than conventional forms of electricity.

Today, grid intelligent #solar provides significant benefits to the #utilitygrid and supports the energy transition with stability and flexibility services, and can balance supply and demand. #EU market design can unleash the full potential of solar.

Utility-scale #solar power prices have plummeted in the last few years, making it the lowest-cost source for new electricity generation available today.

Utility-scale #solar plants are controllable and can provide flexible grid services like frequency regulation that allow system operators to respond quickly and strategically to changing conditions.

Even without energy storage, #solar can already achieve significant penetration on the grid economically. with decreasing energy storage costs, solar energy can be cost-effectively dispatched like conventional plants, even when the sun is not shining, enabling the addition of even more clean energy on the grid.

Question about the report?

Contact Michael Schmela,  Executive Advisor and Head of Market Intelligence

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