Greetings from Frankfurt! It is a cool and rainy day in the financial capital of Germany, but things are heating up at the 27th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference (http://www.photovoltaic-conference.com). Since arriving at the conference, a particular topic has been emphasized in both presentations and discussions with international experts: the harmonious integration of PV into the electricity grid.

This topic is critical for the future of PV as jurisdictions encounter grid challenges while moving towards electricity systems with ever higher penetration levels of variable renewable energy sources. Leading countries in PV are acutely aware of the problems that arise when PV deployment outpaces the capacity of grid infrastructure and management systems. In Germany, for instance, grid operators are grappling with the daily ramping up of PV, which can see output rise by a GW or more per hour.

Intermittent renewables also pose problems for balancing the grid in Ontario, where PV deployment is still relatively low. Transmission and distribution capacity constraints, grid stability issues and other operability challenges are becoming more commonplace as greater quantities of wind and PV come online. It has become clear that if we are to move forward with the rollout of renewables, we will need to adopt a variety of advanced integration solutions.

At a parallel event hosted by the PVSEC conference, these potential solutions were addressed. The series, entitled The Smart Solutions Forum, considered the physical, functional and electrical integration of PV into the grid. In particular, the deployment of electricity storage, implementation of smart grids and advancement of BIPV were explored. PV was conceptualized as a component of a future energy system based on a more decentralized, adaptable and sustainable grid configuration. When framed in this fashion, the potential of PV is therefore inextricably linked to the rollout of this system and the surrounding social and technical factors.

I hope to, as part of my future studies and work with Project 13 of the NSERC Photovoltaic Innovation Network, continue to explore this fascinating policy space surrounding the integration of PV. Some key areas for further study include the framing of PV by prominent actors and how they envision the role of PV in future energy systems in the Canadian context as well as potential policy frameworks for promoting the synchronous development of the system as a whole.

And with that, I think I will go for an authentic German strudel.

ImageDaniel Rosenbloom

Research Associate in Sustainable Energy Policy

Graduate from the MA program in Public Policy and Administration at Carleton University

See Daniel’s photojournal at:

http://www.pvinnovation.ca/files/Photo_Journal_Danny_Rosenbloom.pdf

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