Editorial

What are the Impact of Distributed PV Generation on Grid Operation?

Distributed photovoltaic PV solar power has an exclusive set of benefits. These cells convert the energy of sunlight or sunshine into electrical energy. This technique is being developed due to its rising demand. Photovoltaic generation is the technique which employs photovoltaic cells. In most electric grid systems, electric current flows in one direction. It flows from centralized generators to substations and ultimately to consumers. With the system of distributed generation, power can flow in both directions. 

Benefits of Distributed PV systems

These distributed solar power systems generate electricity for onsite consumption. The main benefits of Distributed PV are as follows:

  • They interconnect at low-voltage points of the grid.
  • This distributed PV can reduce distribution line and transmission losses.
  • They have lower generation costs
  • They greatly reduce the need to invest in a new generation system
  • They ease reliability issues experienced in developing areas
  • They supply standby capacity which offers stable power during times of poor power quality

Challenges faced in the integration of distributed PV

There are a few challenges in the integration of solar systems with the grid directly. We would discuss the common technical effects of PV on electric distribution systems and utility operations.

  • In rural areas, most electric distributions are not designed to adjust to distributed PV

Generation and two-way power flow. The small amounts of PV drastically affect the system parameters if the load and PV generation do not match. This mostly happens in an area with distribution feeder circuits that are long and serve rural areas.

  • When distributed PV solutions and generation surpasses local energy demand, power moves through the distribution feeder. It then reaches the local substation, enhancing the possibility to damage the utility grid. It greatly affects the other utility customers.
  • Acceptable Voltage levels need to be supported at all points, which is a mandatory requirement for the operating system. When the generation of power from PV is fluctuating, it can affect the functioning of any voltage regulation device.
  • The voltage fluctuations complicate the task of keeping the levels of current within regulated limits. The cloudy weather greatly influences solar energy production. This would accelerate the wear and tear of voltage equipment which is critical for rural feeders.
  • Distributed PV systems have an unpredictable generation of power, they can create many issues for voltage and frequency.
  • Solar panels are designed to work with a distributed model. In contrast, the current power grid supplies electricity that starts at power plants and then reaches consumers.
  • The current grid system needs to be synchronised as per the distributed PV solutions.
  • This PV system lower the demand for power at the source. It does not increase the electricity supply on the grid. 
  • Distributed PVs are small and behind the meter
  • The tracking of PV becomes very difficult which significantly complicates load forecasting
  • These distributed PVs can reduce the demand for power during certain times per day
  • A weather forecast is very important as on cloudy days generation of power is drastically affected
  • PV require grid systems to be flexible and quickly adapt to new situations and production trends.

How do we integrate the grid system and Distributed PV?

There are many ways to increase flexibility in the grid which helps in the integration with Distributed PV:

  • Storage of excess energy during times of high production for later use during times of more demand.
  • Developing more transmission lines to link areas with abundant renewable sources with areas of huge electricity supply
  • Linking solar energy with various other renewable sources. This can balance the variability in the generation of power by one source type.
  • There should be a strategy to manage the demand and supply of power.

Distributed PV solutions are the booming ways of generating power. These greatly support a green way of generating electricity. This renewable source of energy is reliable as compared to other renewable sources of energy. They pave the way for low carbon usage soon. But it poses certain challenges to the existing grid system. It requires advanced technology, research, and careful planning to ensure a smooth transition to grid systems which are renewables-dominated. The grid systems should have increased flexibility with desired output and low maintenance costs.

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