The effect of high levels of solar generation on congestion in the European electricity transmission grid
Journal article, 2017
The increasing levels of solar power affect the usage and development of electricity grids, both at local distribution level and with respect to potential congestion within the transmission grid. We use a cost-minimising investment model (ELIN) to determine the development of the European electricity generation system up to Year 2050, for two renewable-dominated scenarios: the Green Base scenario, with a Europe-wide, technology-neutral renewable certificate scheme; and the Net Metering scenario, with an additional net metering support scheme for solar power. The system compositions are extracted from the ELIN results for the years 2022 and 2032, and analysed in an hourly dispatch model (EPOD) to study the effects of solar power on marginal electricity costs and transmission congestion. From the results of the investment model, it is clear that the presence of a net metering subsidy scheme significantly affects both the pace at which solar power continues to expand and the geographical distribution of the new capacity. In the dispatch modelling, it can be seen that high penetration levels of solar power have a strong effect on the marginal costs of electricity, since production is concentrated around a few hours each day. At penetration levels of 20–30% of annual electricity demand, solar power production entails a predictable daily marginal cost difference between the solar peak and the evening price peak, which could make short-term storage competitive. Transmission congestion during summer is consistently higher in the systems from the Net Metering scenario than in those from the Green Base scenario, while the opposite is true during winter. Solar power production correlates strongly with congestion 6–9 h after the solar peak, whereas wind power correlates with congestion with respect to more slowly evolving and longer-term variations.