The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.
Untitled Document

Can Solar PV Help Balance Europe's Electricity Grid?

We hear a lot about the need to balance variable renewables with gas or energy storage, in order to integrate them into the grid. But this week Europe’s solar sector has called for market rule adaptations that would allow solar photovoltaic (PV) installations themselves to offer balancing services to transmission system operators.

The European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) has proposed amendments to the Electricity Balancing Network Code currently being drafted by the European Network of Transmission System Operators (ENTSO-E). “As there is a balancing code in the making, we took the chance to highlight the main principles that should govern balancing markets across Europe to allow PV participation in future,” said Giorgia Concas, EPIA's policy advisor.

One of the main prerequisites for PV to be able to participate in balancing would be to allow for aggregation of distributed solar systems into larger portfolios covering areas as wide as possible, Concas said. A project (REserviceS, supported by Intelligent Energy Europe) in which EPIA participated examined the costs of providing ancillary services with PV and wind, producing a report which showed that the larger the portfolio, the lower the losses and levels of uncertainty, and thus the higher the amount of electricity that can be offered through ancillary services.

While some European TSOs are formulating new rules that will allow aggregated electricity, such as that from so-called virtual power plants, to participate in balancing markets, there is currently no Europe-wide framework and many TSOs do not allow PV to participate. Concas points out that experience with wind integration is more advanced than experience with PV. But with the code being drafted, “this is a key moment” for PV, she said.

EPIA also wants ENTSO-E to specify that packages of balancing reserve or energy (called “products”) can be smaller than current levels. This means TSOs would ask for less power so that amounts from distributed generators can qualify. And the trade body wants TSOs to accept offers for reserve that do not meet the certainty criteria currently in use.

“Because PV and wind are variable it is difficult to know in advance exactly how much energy they will produce at a certain moment in time,” Concas said. “So if a TSO procures reserve power ahead of real time, it should accept that the offer of the bid has an uncertainty margin – we say the confidence level should be lower than what is accepted today.”

This would mean that, in effect, TSOs would have to accept more risk. “Yes, this is challenging,” says Concas; “TSOs have to deal with security and therefore want to have as much certainty as possible.” On the other hand, she points out that accepting offers with lower certainty would increase market liquidity: by accepting lower confidence levels, TSOs would need to accept more offers, increasing the number of market participants.

Some changes to the rules would also increase certainty, EPIA says. “We want to highlight that if TSOs could not only procure reserve or balancing services a long time ahead of real delivery, if they could also ask generators to offer balancing services very close to real time, then of course the reliability of PV and wind offers would be much higher,” said Concas. EPIA wants the so-called gate closure time – the time by which all offers have to be submitted and after which it is not possible to adjust them – to be as close as possible to real time in order to increase the reliability of offers from variable generators.

Concas says EPIA will be discussing acceptable certainty levels with TSOs, and the industry needs to analyse the impact of lower levels. Today’s average certainty level is 97.5 percent, which is “very ambitious for us,” she says.

“I think it’s very important that our industry comes up with real on-the-ground data,” she continues. “It’s important to have more and more demonstration projects in PV, not only in the wind sector – with concrete data demonstrating that, even if the rules are slightly changed, the TSOs’ main concern, security, is not endangered.”

Looking to the future, Concas is optimistic about the potential for change, and sees a time ahead when the share of variable renewables will be very high in many areas of Europe. “If at one point we will be very important in the system, we will have to provide certain support, and therefore the rules should be adapted by then. And the earlier the better,” she said.

 Lead image: Solar panel geometry via Shutterstock

Untitled Document


States Already Seek To Delay Clean Power Plan

Andrew Harris, Bloomberg Fifteen states led by coal-rich West Virginia asked a federal court to stall Obama administration rules intended to c...

Stolen Solar Panels and Sabotage A Challenge for Powering India With Renewable Energy

Anindya Upadhyay, Bloomberg Disappointment spread across Tarun Singh’s face when he saw that parts of his solar power microgrid in eastern India’...

Suntech Parent Company Buys Majority Share of US-based Suniva

Ehren Goossens Shunfeng International Clean Energy Ltd., the Hong Kong-based solar company controlled by billionaire Zheng Jianming,...

Sunrise in Pakistan as the Country Delves into Solar PV

Robert Harker Pakistan has joined the list of countries that are exploring solar power as a means to bridge critical energy generat...


Array Technologies’ DuraTrack HZ v3 Continues to (R)evolutionize at SPI

Array Technologies, Inc. (ATI) prepares to showcase its recently launched tracking syst...

Appalachian's Energy Center assists counties with landfill gas to energy projects

The Appalachian Energy Center at Appalachian State University recently completed a proj...

Early Bird Registration Deadline for GRC Annual Meeting is This Week

The deadline for early-bird rates for registration for the biggest annual geothermal ev...

Redesigned Video Gallery

Hydropower news and information, and interesting promotional announcements are now avai...


Transitioning to Net-Zero Living

Judith and Jeffrey adore living in Belfast, Maine – a quaint harbor town of Belfast, Maine. They previously res...

The True Cost of Electric Vehicles in Australia

In order to avoid increased congestion, further greenhouse warming and lessen Australia’s reliance on imported ...

The Coming Multi-trillion Dollar Energy Investment Drive

In coming years, a multi-trillion dollar low-emission energy investment drive will get underway. Three catalysts wil...

The Perfect Elevator Pitch

The elevator pitch is a concise statement that grabs attention and communicates value, ideally leading to a next step...


Tildy Bayar is a journalist focusing on the energy sector. She is a former Associate Editor on and Renewable Energy World magazine.


Volume 18, Issue 4


To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:


Tweet the Editors! @jennrunyon



Intersolar North America 2016

Exhibition: July 12 - 14, 2016; Conference: July 11 - 13, 2016 Intersola...

Intersolar South America 2015

Exhibition and Conference: September 1-3, 2015 Intersolar South America ...

Intersolar Europe 2016

Exhibition: June 22-24, 2016; Conference: June 21-22, 2016 Intersolar Eu...


The Proof Is Not Always In The Pudding

One of the best ways to turn a skeptical prospect into a buyer is to giv...

Pushing Beyond The Cushion

Efficiency projects are all too often viewed as “optional” o...

Less Is More

When you’re giving a presentation, one of the easiest things to do...


Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now