National Grid is getting on the front foot about the potential future over-supply from solar PV generators with a set of solutions to tackle the issue before it becomes a costly problem.
“We’re working to deal with the issue now to avoid costly solutions in future and minimise the cost to consumers.”
National Grid Solar PV Briefing Note: Options for integrating increased levels of solar PV generation
While current levels of solar PV in Britain are manageable, the challenges and costs of balancing electricity supply and demand are likely to increase as installed capacity grows in the coming decades.
We’re working alongside the Department for Energy and Climate Change, Distribution Network Operators and the solar PV industry to deal with the issue now to avoid the need for costly solutions in future and minimise the cost to consumers.
A hierarchy of actions have been identified, with the first solution being to encourage the electricity market to balance supply and demand itself where possible.
However, while most market participants are incentivised to do this by commercial drivers, solar PV generators are paid for every unit of electricity they generate, so don’t have the same challenges. Using the electricity from the solar panels within the building they are placed on, increasing electricity storage and exporting to other countries could potentially alleviate excess supply issues likely to arise as a result.
The second tier solution is the creation of a ‘turn down’ scheme for solar PV generators who would be paid to cut the amount of electricity they’re generating when there’s limited capacity to accommodate it on the grid.
The development of the European Commission’s electricity network codes, and the Requirement for Generators (known as the RfG Code) in particular, make this more likely over the next three to four years. These codes provide for all new solar PV installations to be fitted with a port allowing power output to be controlled, potentially via smart meters.
Automatic options, the final tier of measures, are also made possible by the RfG requirement, as smart inverters could be used to automatically reduce output, coupled with a system to reimburse generators for the resulting lost income.
The solar PV briefing note can be read in full here.