Solar farms could soon play a vital role in the energy system 24 hours a day, after a breakthrough trial proved they can even help balance the grid at night. National Grid used a solar farm in East Sussex to help smooth overnight voltage fluctuations for the first time earlier this month, proving solar farms don’t need sunshine to help keep the lights on. Lightsource BP, the owner of the solar farm, said an inexpensive tweak to the project’s electrical equipment meant it could help balance the grid with only two seconds’ notice. Kareen Boutonnat, the company’s chief operating officer, said: “We have proven that solar plants can play a larger role across the electricity network. But this is only the beginning.” The breakthrough could mean that UK solar farms will soon help stabilise the energy grid at night, which could save £400m on grid upgrades or building new power plants. “Inverters” at the solar farm are usually used in the process of converting solar energy to electric current. But at night, when the grid is often less stable, the same equipment can adapt grid electricity to a healthier voltage.
Guardian 24th Nov 2019 read more »