EU solar eclipse: preparing our power system for future challenges

De auteur

Michael Döring
Energy Systems and Markets

On 20 March 2015, a solar eclipse will be observed in large parts of Europe. As a consequence of the recent growth of PV capacity, for the first time, this event will be relevant for the operation of power systems in Europe. The experiences gained will be a valuable input for future system operations of an energy system with a high share of variable renewable energy sources.

Ecofys and the German transmission system operator 50Hertz Transmission GmbH analysed the effects and impacts of the solar eclipse on the German and European power system. The results of the work were already presented at the 4th Solar Integration Workshop in Berlin in November 2014. The paper [1] was listed in the best papers 2014 selection.

Summary: Effects and impacts of the solar eclipse

In the morning of this Friday the partial solar eclipse will cover large areas of North and Central Europe. During the last two decades substantial capacities of photovoltaic have been installed in this area. Since the last relevant eclipse in 1999 in Europe the installed capacity of photovoltaic increased from 0.1 GW to 90 GW.

As a result, the exceptional fluctuations in irradiation will have an impact on power gradients and balances on a continental scale. A complete understanding of all relevant phenomena is lacking as well as practical experience. In addition the affected Transmission System Operators performed several analyses of possible scenarios during the last months.

Main findings:

Consequences for the power system in Germany

  • In case of a sunny day, a steep positive gradient of the PV power generation is expected. Regarding the current forecast, a total deviation of up to 13 GW in more than 1 hour is expectable. This value would exceed recent gradients in the power system during extreme events by the factor 2 to 3.
  • The main challenge is to balance the power system with this dynamically changing generation balance.
  • The event requires flexible power fleet and significant amount of reserve control in a short period.

Specific challenges

  • Meteorological forecasts will be uncertain.
  • Market behavior will be hard to predict.


The eclipse is a brilliant opportunity to prepare for the future!

  • The maximum hourly gradient corresponds to what we may expect on a normal, sunny morning, once we have more than 60 GW PV installed. This figure is consistent with German policy targets.
  • Hence, the eclipse is a chance to gain experience and exercise for the future.
  • This applies not only to TSOs, but to all other market participants as well.

Expected gradients in a future power system with a high share of variable renewable generation.jpg

[1]: K. Burges, M. Doering, R. Kuwahata, U. Bachmann, R. Sikora, M. Zirkelbach: „Operating Power Systems with high Photovoltaic Generation during a Solar Eclipse – Challenges and Operational Measures”, 4th International Workshop on Large-Scale Integration of Solar Power into Power Systems, Berlin, November 2014

Further information is available in the presentation “Operating power systems with high PV generation during a solar eclipse”.

Geplaatst 18-03-2015 Categorie: Energiesystemen & -markten Tags: solar eclipse , renewable energy , power system

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De auteur

Michael Döring
Energy Systems and Markets

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Solar eclipse (c) James Thew - Fotolia