Panorama – Extreme weather conditions in Spain highlight the need for an interconnected European network

As extreme weather events continue to set global records, 2022 saw Spain experience its biggest drop in solar irradiance in 28 years following its wettest March in 61 years and a cloud of Saharan dust that swept the Mediterranean.

In late spring, a team of experts from solar data company Solargis analyzed their monthly difference maps to find a 50% decrease in Spanish solar irradiance – the most extreme decrease since their records began. by satellite in 1994. In contrast, Germany and the Balkans recorded solar irradiance levels about 45% higher during the month of March than longer-term averages.

It is essential that regional variability is better managed in the regions of Europe by improving network quality and interconnection.

With Spain being one of the sunniest countries in Europe and Germany looking to triple its solar power capacity to 215 GW, these large deviations from average values ​​pose a challenge for project developers and investors. who seek to accurately calculate the return on investment and support the integration of solar energy in the continent. Grid. This is especially important at a time when policymakers are determined to reduce the EU’s Russian dependence on oil and gas by increasing the adoption of renewable energy.

It is a well-known fact that the interconnection of networks in Europe is currently not sufficient to cope with the growth of renewable energies necessary to achieve climate objectives. Insufficient interconnection hampers the ability of neighboring regions rich in solar and wind power to compensate for abnormal conditions in markets such as Spain during the recent winter period.

Improved networks spanning the countries will allow regional utility companies to compensate for localized variability through clean energy sources rather than reverting to fossil fuels.

While grid modernization faces significant challenges, we are seeing a clear push for a more coordinated energy approach, including the recently formed SERENDI-PV project – a European Commission-funded project to study the integration reliable and distributable PV (photovoltaic) in EU grids.

As a specialist in understanding solar energy as a resource, Solargis works closely with other project stakeholders to highlight the challenge of variability in key markets to better support policy makers, planners and consultants, encouraging a coordinated approach to interconnection between countries across Europe.

“While the energy sources of our future require an innovative approach to grid interconnectivity, they also require increased digitization to support their integration,” said Marcel Suri, CEO of Solargis. “A new generation of forecasting models enables grid operators to maintain the balance between variable and flexible energy sources through flexible energy trading and exchange. The digitization of our networks coupled with increased interconnectivity will ultimately allow large producers to react more quickly and efficiently to the regional variability of renewable energies. Controlling the weather is beyond our capabilities, however, by viewing Europe as an interconnected energy network rather than country specific, it is possible to balance the market. Through our initiative with SERENDI-PV, we are working to improve short-term forecasting of aggregate PV power, energy assessment and forecasting in the presence of snow, dust and extreme weather conditions. , to improved simulations, to reduced uncertainty to support the creation of an efficient, modern digital network.

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