Engineers find new way of utilizing solar farms at night

Aug 17, 2010

( -- New technology from The University of Western Ontario utilizing photovoltaic (PV) solar farms at night will help in connecting more renewable energy sources like wind turbines to Ontario's grid, increasing power transmission limits, and providing a low-cost way of improving grid voltages and system performance.

Wind farms ramp up their production in the nights due to high winds but are unable to connect to the grid due to voltage fluctuations and lack of adequate transmission capacity. Restricted by the current working model, the best way to integrate more wind renewables on the grid is to build new lines, which is very expensive considering the cost is approximately $2 million per kilometre.

For a fraction of the cost (an estimated $100,000), this novel nighttime control of PV solar farms, developed by the research group of Rajiv Varma of Western Engineering, would utilize PV solar farms during the night when they are completely idle, to provide much needed voltage control for nearby to send increased to the grid.

Two utilities, London Hydro and Bluewater Power, have offered to implement and showcase this PV - for the first time in Canada - on two of their 10 kilowatts (kW) PV solar systems for providing voltage control on their networks. If successful, there is a potential for retrofitting several PV systems with this new control for providing benefits to the power systems.

Varma, an electrical engineering professor at Western, is the project co-lead in a recently awarded $6 million research grant from Ontario Centre of Excellence for this project entitled, Large-Scale Photovoltaic Solar Power Integration in Transmission and Distribution Networks.

“This will not only increase the penetration of more wind into the system but it will also create additional revenue for PV solar farmers that will now see their farms functioning 24 hours a day,” explains Varma. “But most importantly, this technology will also make Ontario’s supply greener and cleaner.”

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Provided by University of Western Ontario

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1.3 / 5 (3) Aug 17, 2010
"Wind farms ramp up their production in the nights due to high winds but are unable to connect to the grid due to voltage fluctuations and lack of adequate transmission capacity."
-they can too connected to the grid perfectly fine, why else would we already have so many wind turbines out there? You really think they are just sitting idle?
-The only problem with wind is that you cannot control it's maximum load. This is a fictious problem to begin with, other plants can control their load. This is how the grid runs today. When we get up to 40-60% of electricity generated is from wind, then we'll have this problem. So another 120 years guys, way to priorize!
not rated yet Sep 28, 2010
Either someone has put out a very poorly written article, or these people have fleeced $6 million from the Ontario government.

C'mon. $6 million to retrofit two 10 kilowatt PV systems? Really?! Just 10 kilowatts?? And, how does this get around inadequate transmission systems? If they are underrated during the daytime, then they are as well during the night--especially if the wind is stronger then, as stated.
not rated yet Sep 28, 2010
If it aint broken, don't fix it; if it is broken, fix it with duck tape and superglue. This has been the attitude towards our grid for the last forty years. It is still there, but slight hope on the horizon.