German PV Grid Forum

Organised by BSW-Solar

Organizer: German Solar Industry Association(BSW- Solar)
Date: 20 June 2013
Time: 09:30 - 18:00
Venue: Intersolar Europe 2013, Munich

Grid Integration of Photovoltaics – PV GRID

The German National Forum took place on June 20, 2013, and was embedded in the world’s largest solar trade show Intersolar Europe, held from June 17-20, 2013 at the International Congress Center in Munich. Around 70 participants, including experts from politics, distribution system operators (DSOs), grid technology manufacturers, PV operators and energy scientists attended the forum.

The opening session provided a short introduction to the project PV GRID and discussed the challenges of integrating large amounts of solar electricity into the grid in the overall context of the German ‘Energy Transition’ (‘Energiewende’). Panel participants agreed on the need for reforms of the current energy market design and energy system in order to accommodate growing amounts of solar electricity. The German government requires the PV sector to take over more responsibility with respect to grid stability. In the meantime and from a technical perspective, PV is already able to contribute in significant ways to grid stability. However, the regulatory framework needs to be adapted in order to facilitate the application of those technical solutions.    

During the first session Dr. Philipp Strauss from DerLab presented technical solutions for enhanced integration of solar electricity into the grid as identified by the PV GRID project. Interim project results focus on three overall categories: solutions implemented within the grid operator infrastructure, solutions implemented within the consumer (or prosumer) infrastructure, and solutions implemented within both the operator and the prosumer infrastructure whereby the different components react based on signals exchanged via a communication infrastructure. In particular, using on-load tap changer (OLTC) devices to adjust the lower voltage value of an energized transformer, storage technologies, and solutions for reactive power control were discussed. Generally, there are a number of technical solutions already available and attending DSO representatives confirmed that PV GRID has identified the most adequate ones thus far. However, the national context and regulatory frameworks are important and determine whether those solutions are easily applicable or face challenges in their implementation. New ideas, such as offering incentives to solar system operators for supplying reactive power to stabilize the grid when needed were introduced as well. According to Bernhard Beck, CEO of Belectric Holding, a similar incentive scheme is already successfully operating in the US. The attending DSOs EWE and N-ERGIE underlined the importance for DSOs to actively engage and participate in developing the required future infrastructure of the grid, in addition to adapting the regulatory framework and developing new and innovative market structures.

The second session provided an overview of regulatory barriers as identified by PV GRID project partners, including the impossibility to control passive loads by DSOs, undefined information exchange for demand response, the lack of voltage measurement in LV networks, prohibitive requirements of the Eco Design regulation for transformers, DSO recovery of efficient investment not being guaranteed, forbidden RES energy curtailment except for security issues, lack of self-consumption legislation, and inadequate tariffs and cost allocation design. Those are the main barriers for implementing DSO and Prosumer based solutions. In addition, there are barriers to interactive solutions, such as the lack of access to advanced PV inverter capabilities and the lack of incentives for the development of smart grids. Representatives of two German DSOs discussed their practical experience with regulatory challenges related to integrating increasing shares of renewable electricity into the distribution grid. Dr. Oliver Franz from RWE presented the current status of German regulations concerning curtailment, recent problems and suggested changes from RWE’s point of view. Marcus Merkel from EWE discussed challenges related to the expansion of the distribution grid, i.e. regulatory conditions constraining efficient investment recovery, missing investment incentives and suggestions for changing those conditions.

The closing session started with a review of the European perspective. Especially storage and demand-side-management will play an essential role in the future design of the European electric power system, according to Manöel Reker from EPIA. During the following discussion it became clear that all stakeholders will have to work in concert to develop solutions and new procedures in order to tackle the challenges represented by increasing shares of renewable energy.  As the distribution grid has to accommodate increasing bi-directional flows, practical experience with technical solutions is most valuable and needs to be communicated with all stakeholders. Overall, there is a significant need for supporting R&D and pilot projects by national governments and regulatory bodies. Testing applications and new technologies, under real-time and -world conditions, will help managing the transition to a modernized grid. Furthermore, intelligent substations allowing for voltage regulated and controllable distribution transformers in combination with selective curtailment, including regulations addressing fair loss compensations for solar plant operators, will enable a distribution grid with high shares of PV electricity. PV GRID will build on valuable input and feedback received by experts and stakeholders attending the German National Forum. To a large extend, the attending experts confirmed the preliminary results presented by PV GRID. Stimulating ideas that arose from highly productive discussions in Munich will be integrated into the development of further PV GRID project deliverables.

Agenda: Download it here

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Pictures from the German Forum