Unleashing large-scale solar and storage through grid intelligent solar

This article is the seventh entry in SolarPower Europe’s 10-part blog series on ‘What’s Hot in Solar’.
“Solar & storage make the perfect match, as storage allows to fully reap the benefits of solar and has a wide range of applications and technologies to meet different needs and functions,” writes Raffaele Rossi, Policy Analyst at SolarPower Europe

As a highly versatile and low-cost power generation source, solar is expanding rapidly across the world, and has already reached notable penetration shares in the most advanced energy markets. But in order for solar to become the backbone of the future energy system, it is necessary to move one step forward and exploit its great synergy with energy storage. Solar & storage make the perfect match, as storage allows to fully reap the benefits of solar and has a wide range of applications and technologies to meet different needs and functions.

The costs of storage have decreased dramatically in the last decade. Lithium-ion batteries, which are the most diffused type of storage batteries, decreased from 1,000 USD/kWh in 2010 to 200 USD/kWh in 2017. Remarkably, the potential for further cost reduction is substantial – by 2030, prices could fall by more than 60% compared to current levels (see Trends Figure 2). At the same time, the existence of many different storage technologies able to match different performance requirements suggests that there will be strong competition on performance and costs.

Energy systems everywhere are characterised by quickly increasing shares of variable renewables. In the future, whenever high renewable penetration rates are reached, electricity providers will switch from meeting demand needs to meeting net demand needs – the residual demand after accounting for variable renewable generation. In light of this change, storage is supposed to play the key role of both: providing supply during periods of high net demand and avoiding curtailment during periods of negative net demand.

Thanks to smart controls, utility-scale solar plants can already provide flexibility services to the grid, allowing system operators to quickly adapt to changing conditions. With the addition of storage, the potential of solar is fully tapped: solar energy can be dispatched at any time of the day, and has the capability to provide the same or better services and reliability than conventional power plants, because of fast and reliable regulation of active and reactive power, outlined in detail in SolarPower Europe’s Grid Intelligent Solar report.

The vision is to move from a Grid 1.0 system, in which solar has a low penetration share and is characterised by simply maximising system yields, to a Grid 2.0 system, where a higher share of solar corresponds to more flexible solar resources that are able to provide flexibility and grid reliability services, and eventually reaching a Grid 3.0 system based on high solar penetration, in which the co-location of solar and storage enables the provision of firm dispatchable capacity.

For further trends in solar, download the Global Market Outlook for Solar Power 2019-2023

Join us in Brussels on the 5th and 6th of November for the annual Digital Solar & Storage event. High-level executives from digital innovators and storage solution suppliers active in solar and representatives from Europe’s new European Parliament and Commission will be in attendance to discuss the latest business models and market trends shaping the New Energy World based on digital solar & storage.

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