Greater collaboration between the established electricity networks sector and the blossoming solar power industry is essential for overcoming barriers to increasing the contribution of solar power to the UK electricity supply.
That was the message delivered by the Solar Trade Association last Thursday, at a London meeting called to introduced the pan-European PV Grid project and allow industry and regulators alike to share their recommendations.
“When the STA set up its large scale PV group last year, it immediately identified grid connection and capacity planning as key barriers to deployment," said association CEO Paul Barwell.
"In its recent update to the Renewable Energy Roadmap the Government forecasted 10GW of solar coming on-stream before constraints are reached in the existing network infrastructure. However, we have the potential for much more," he continued. "Getting the grid ready for full solar integration will require coordination between all stakeholders, and we were delighted to be asked by PV Grid to lead the UK’s efforts in bringing together the relevant bodies to develop solutions to the challenges ahead.”
The STA was joined at the event by speakers from the European Photovoltaic Association (EPIA), Ofgem, the Electricity Networks Association (ENA), district network operator (DNO) Western Power and several solar companies.
Presentations covered issues ranging from connection issues for solar farms and social housing projects to electricity storage and other system balancing solutions. All the presentations can be downloaded from the STA website.
Western Power’s recommendations on lowering UK voltage limits, currently at 240V, to EU levels was welcomed by STA PV Specialist Ray Noble.
“The tangible spirit of collaboration at the event was very encouraging," he said. "The solar industry needs to know how we can help the DNOs to help us. Building these relationships, fully understanding the barriers and providing technical solutions is the key.
The case studies from Western Power, who have monitored 525 domestic PV installations to date, provided some very helpful evidence on how to minimise the negative impact of PV on voltage, potentially allowing more solar on to the grid. This is a key finding, and will be welcomed by industry,” Noble added.
Established in 1978, the Solar Trade Association represents companies working in solar thermal and solar power in the UK.