Research project reveals »very high potential« for small PV systems to provide balancing power

A research project in which the Technical University of Ulm, Germany, the transmission system operator TransnetBW and the Stadtwerke Ulm/Neu-Ulm Netze GmbH as distribution system operator investigated the possibilities of small photovoltaic plants to participate in the balancing energy market has been »successfully completed«. According to a TU Ulm release, small PV systems have »a very high potential for providing negative as well as, to a certain extent, positive control reserve« – i.e., for balancing the power fluctuations that arise, in particular, due to forecast errors of electricity deliveries from renewable energies. This control reserve is currently still provided by fossil power plants. For the use of photovoltaics, »among other things, there is a lack of cost-effective technical solutions for controlling the mostly very small plants,« and there are also regulatory hurdles.
For a field test as part of the research project, PV systems with outputs between ten and 55 kilowatts were equipped with a CLS gateway (Controllable Local System) and a smart meter gateway. The use of the aggregated plants to call up control reserve was tested; as a result, this arrangement »met the requirements for providing secondary control reserve.« With a smart meter infrastructure, it was concluded, PV plants can be used »cost-effectively and on a mass scale« for the control reserve market, which, moreover, could also generate additional revenues for the operators of the plants.
A follow-up project with an expanded consortium is now to help remove »the last hurdles,« such as the as yet undefined form in which the control reserve applications are verified.

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