Grid costs no barrier to EU solar expansion, says report

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The cost of grid connections should not be an obstacle to large-scale expansion of solar energy in Europe, according to a new report developed by Imperial College London.

The report for the European PV Parity project investigated the impact of 480GW of PV connecting to the grid Europe by 2030 across 11 key markets.

The authors found that that connection to the grid was not only technically feasible but also cheaper than anticipated.

The provision of back-up capacity was found to cost €14.5/MWh (US$19.6) in Northern Europe where solar is less able to displace fossil fuels.

The cost of reinforcing distribution networks was estimated at €9/MWh (US$12.2) by 2030.

The European PV Parity project is the combined effort of 11 partners including EDF, Imperial College and ENEL Green Power.

In the UK, engineering consultancy Wardell Armstrong plans to further reduce grid connection costs with an initiative to incorporate ground-mounted solar farms on the same sites as existing wind farms.

The solar wind service will enable developers to share the costs of connecting to the grid.

“It makes perfect commercial sense to think about adding solar generation to existing or proposed wind farms,” said Neil Sutherland, Wardell Armstrong regional director and specialist in renewables planning.

“Bolting on solar effectively takes advantage of a free grid connection. It can make good use of wasted capacity, improve the value of the site, increase the profitability of the project and enhance overall sustainability. It also makes solar viable right across the UK, including up to the north of Scotland,” claimed Armstrong.

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