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The UK solar farm fleet: A challenge for the national grid?

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journal contribution
posted on 25.08.2017, 13:28 authored by Diane Palmer, Elena Koumpli, Tom BettsTom Betts, Ralph Gottschalg
Currently, in the UK, it is widely believed that supply from renewable energy sources is capable of reaching proportions too great for the transmission system. This research investigates this topic objectively by offering an understanding of year-to-year and area-to-area variability of PV (photovoltaic) performance, measured in terms of specific yield (kWh/kWp). The dataset is created using publicly available data that gives an indication of impact on the grid. The daily and seasonal variance is determined, demonstrating a surprisingly good energy yield in April (second only to August). The geographic divergence of generation from large scale solar systems is studied for various sized regions. Generation is compared to demand. Timing of output is analyzed and probability of achieving peak output ascertained. Output and demand are not well matched, as regards location. Nevertheless, the existing grid infrastructure is shown to have sufficient capacity to handle electricity flow from large scale PV. Full nameplate capacity is never reached by the examples studied. Although little information is available about oversizing of array-to-inverter ratios, this is considered unlikely to be a major contributor to grid instability. It is determined that output from UK solar farms currently presents scant danger to grid stability.


This work was started as part of the research project “PV2025—Potential Costs and Benefits of Photovoltaic for UK Infrastructure and Society” project which is funded by the RCUK’s Energy Programme (contract No.: EP/K02227X/1). It was continued under ‘Joint UK-India Clean Energy Centre (JUICE)’, funded by the RCUK's Energy Programme (contract no: EP/P003605/1).



  • Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering

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PALMER, D. al., 2017. The UK solar farm fleet: A challenge for the national grid? Energies, 10(8): 1220.


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