March solar eclipse to test Europe’s electricity system
European transmission system operators (TSOs) say they have been preparing for the 20th March solar eclipse for several months because of concerns over the impact of the eclipse on solar electricity generation.
Under a clear morning sky on 20th March 2015, some 35,000 MW of solar energy might gradually fade from Europe’s electrical system before being gradually re-injected: all in the space of two hours while Europeans and their offices begin a normal working day.
TSOs are warning that managing this event on the world’s largest interconnected grid is an unprecedented challenge – while solar eclipses have happened before, the increase of installed photovoltaic energy generation means that the risk of an incident could be serious without appropriate countermeasures.
Apparently, operational coordination among European TSOs will be crucial and a series of policy and regulatory changes are needed to take into account the evolution of Europe’s energy.
In the meantime, European TSOs explain:
“What makes this year’s solar eclipse so special is the fact that there is now a non-negligible amount of energy generation units connected to the grid that are highly sensitive to variations in solar radiation. This solar eclipse will thus be an unprecedented test for Europe’s electricity system, and useful to better understand the relationship between ambitious EU targets and the security of operation which all Europeans are very much depending on.
“The whole of the European area is concerned either directly or indirectly. The eclipse will have direct effects at different levels, being visible from Turkey to Greenland and from Spain to Norway. Indirectly, all countries of the region are affected due to their interconnection.”