German grid braces for partial solar eclipse in 2015 | RenewEconomy

German grid braces for partial solar eclipse in 2015

Germany will undergo a partial solar eclipse that could result in sudden ramp up of 37GW of solar power.

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The eclipse will affect all of Europe, and it will do so just before noon. The black arrow shows where the total eclipse will be visible. The effect of the eclipse is weaker as you move away from that arrow.

Renewables International

A partial solar eclipse on March 29, 2006, passed over Germany, but the country only had around 2 GW of PV installed at the time. Another one crossed Germany on August 1, 2008. In the North, the partial eclipse reached 23 percent but fell below 10 percent in the South. The country had less than 5 GW of PV that summer.

The next one came on January 4, 2011 – a day with very little sunlight – and had completely left Germany by 10 AM. Germany had 24.4 GW of PV at the time.

The eclipse will affect all of Europe, and it will do so just before noon. The black arrow shows where the total eclipse will be visible. The effect of the eclipse is weaker as you move away from that arrow.
The eclipse will affect all of Europe, and it will do so just before noon. The black arrow shows where the total eclipse will be visible. The effect of the eclipse is weaker as you move away from that arrow.

But on March 20, 2015, a solar eclipse will pass over Norway, covering all of Western Europe partially. Germany will be affected roughly from 9 AM to around 11 AM. And it will probably have more than 37 GW of PV installed.

What will the effect be that day? It depends on the weather – to give you an idea, I went back to mid-March 2014 to see how much solar power was generated (see below).

On March 20, solar power production peaked at an impressive 23 GW, but on March 16 the country’s PV arrays only managed to peak at five GW. In other words, next year during the solar eclipse, Germany might ramp up quickly from a low level to five GW – or maybe to 23 GW.

The difference is crucial for power companies and grid operators, however. If it were a total eclipse near midday, Germany would go from zero GW of PV to around 23 GW in just one hour. But since the country will only have a partial eclipse that day, it might go from 12 to 23 GW in just one hour.

chart3

It’s a lot, but the country actually ramps up solar close to that level every day. For instance, last year on March 20 solar power was at 15 GW at 9 AM and 22.3 GW at 11 AM (see Agora’s chart above). That’s 7.3 GW in two hours on a normal day. Next year, we might ramp 50 percent more in half the time.

The industry insider who tipped me off to this issue tells me that power firms are already holding meetings to discuss how to deal with the situation. But it could be worse – Germany could easily have twice as much solar as it does today in the long run, and a full solar eclipse on a summer day would be a far greater challenge. But not to worry – the next total solar eclipse will not be seen in Germany until September 3, 2081.

 

Source: Renewables International. Reproduced with permission.

 

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7 Comments
  1. Gordon 6 years ago

    Here are the plots from the past 2 partial solar eclipses from my system, as you can see it is a gradual change with no sudden drops or jumps in output:
    forums.energymatters.com.au/off-topic/topic4475.html
    http://forums.energymatters.com.au/off-topic/topic5241.html?hilit=eclipse#p33615

  2. RobS 6 years ago

    Power firms are holding meetings to try and make it seem like there is an issue, another desperate bid as their utility model crumbles under them. The reality is the german grid struggles through a total solar eclipse every day, it’s called night time.

  3. Farmer Dave 6 years ago

    Craig, this comment is really for my benefit, because if my understanding of how inverters work is correct I would expect this eclipse to be a non-issue. So please, all the tech-heads out there – tell me where I am wrong.

    In order for an inverter to export power to the grid it needs to set a voltage above the existing grid voltage in order to drive the power into the grid. Therefore, if the grid is over-supplied with power, the grid voltage is pushed up and up by inverters all trying to get their power onto a grid which is already well supplied until eventually the voltage goes off-spec, and the inverters experiencing the too high grid voltage shut down. At least that is what seemed to be happening earlier today when my SMA inverter shut down repeatedly on a “grid disturbance” which looked to me like an over-voltage.

    So, if I am right, then when the partial eclipse rolls away, the power delivered into the grid by all that solar delivering more power should be self-limiting – as local voltages get too high, the inverters will shut down until the voltage is back within specification, allowing the grid operators time for the orderly withdrawal of other generating capacity.

    • Ronald Brakels 6 years ago

      That’s right, solar inverters won’t send electricity out into the grid if the local frid voltage is too high. So there is no problem.

  4. Guest 6 years ago

    This is what how Queensland total solar eclipse (up north, partial in Brisbane) affected PV output in the state. Individual systems shown.

  5. Guest 6 years ago

    here’s that ecipse

  6. Ronald Brakels 6 years ago

    This is not a problem. No more than a storm front is, or as Guest pointed out, night. And I have to point out that German is large while the area of a total eclipse is very small. You can see the small black dot in the animation above that shows the area of the total eclipse. The paritial eclipse in Germany will have no more effect than light cloud and even if the total eclipse passed through the middle of Germany it it would have no real effect apart from a dip in solar output that could happen as the result of cloud anyway. Heck, not even every total eclipse blocks all the light from the sun. If the moon is far enough away there can be a “ring of fire” around the moon as it fails to completely obscure the sun.

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