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CONNECTING THE SUN How Europe's electricity grid can integrate solar photovoltaics


25 Sep 2012


The rise of solar PV and other renewables presents a whole new world for electricity grid operators; EPIA's report shows how PV is already providing solutions, and how it will be key to meeting Europe's ambitious energy and environmental goals
The increasing role played by renewable energy sources, including PV, requires a new perspective on Europe's power system management. Under all scenarios envisioned for the coming decades, PV will play an important part of Europe's electricity mix - covering about 15% (or, under a paradigm shift scenario, up to 25%) by 2030. "Connecting the Sun: Solar photovoltaics on the road to large-scale grid integration", a new report from the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA), shows how Europe's electricity system can integrate high levels of solar PV in the coming decades. 
"In many ways, PV is already providing grid-integration solutions," said EPIA's President, Dr Winfried Hoffmann. "PV is meeting a growing share of electricity demand at increasingly competitive cost without creating undue strain on the power system. By making smart choices now to improve energy infrastructure, European policymakers can ensure that the EU's ambitious energy and decarbonisation goals are met."
The report was conducted after interviewing several network operators, both at transmission and distribution level, so as to identify best practices and build recommendations on the basis of real-world experience. It also includes input from external experts. 
The main findings of "Connecting the Sun" include: 
  • PV is an active part of the power system in Europe, and can be integrated without creating operational issues or affecting security of supply
  • PV will be key to the future of the electricity distribution network, and there are no technical limits to large-scale PV integration under scenarios envisioned until 2030
  • PV electricity is decentralised and can be produced close to where it is consumed, and developing PV in dense consumption areas is more cost-effective than concentrating it in areas of high solar irradiation
  • PV will continue on its path to competitiveness, even taking into account additional measures required to facilitate grid integration
"People want solar power," said Dr Hoffmann. "And even its harshest critics in the conventional energy sectors will ultimately have to agree that under all scenarios envisioned in the coming decades, solar PV will be a major part of Europe's electricity mix. This makes it crucial to consider the implications of a growing penetration of PV on the electricity grid. With this study, we look at those implications, present realistic options for addressing them, and make clear policy recommendations aimed at facilitating the process."
Download the report at


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