Feeds

Solar power can head out of the clouds says CSIRO

It's always sunny somewhere, so smarter grids could make large-scale renewables viable

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

The old saw about solar power is that the sun isn’t always shining – but in a country as large as Australia, good engineering and intelligent grids can go a long way to overcoming the challenge of intermittency, according to Australia’s CSIRO.

The nearly 200-page report, Solar intermittency: Australia’s clean energy challenge, notes that to date, most discussion of intermittency is “anecdotal, difficult to verify and limited to a particular technical, geographical or social context.” Its 12-month study, supported by a grant from the government’s Australian Solar Institute, was conducted in conjunction with the Australian Energy Market Operator and the Energy Networks Association.

CSIRO Energy Centre team leader Dr Glenn Platt says the problem isn’t confined to the question of large-scale solar power generation. Localised interruptions are already visible to the grid as a result of Australia’s strong uptake of rooftop PV, and the problem will grow as more systems are brought online.

Platt says that good weather forecasting at different timescales is important. Longer timescale forecasts (the normal forecasts a few days ahead) need to be supplemented with near-real-time forecasting to help mitigate short-term “flicker” from solar power, he said.

CSIRO says that with good solar forecasting tools, a grid designed to cope with localized interruptions, and with the right mitigation strategies, intermittency can be handled.

Interestingly, the study notes that power quality standards can have as much impact on the suitability of large-scale solar generation as the technology itself. Even the grid standards within Australia can vary so widely that “a breach of a restrictive standard in one region may be no worse than complying with a relaxed standard in another.”

The report notes that intermittency is not specific to solar power: today’s grid experiences intermittency both because of localized failures, and from changes in usage patterns. From the point of view of the grid, he told the ABC, solar power looks “exactly like air conditioners going on and off”.

The research involved gathering data from Australia’s major solar power research stations (The University of Queensland’s 1.2 MW PV system, the CSIRO’s 22 kW research installation in Newcastle, NSW, and the Desert Knowledge Australia Solar Centre at Alice Springs in the Northern Territory).

The study is described here (including a link to the full 198-page epic). ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Rosetta science team thinks Philae might come to life in the spring
And disclose the biggest surprise of Comet 67P
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.