Can renewable energy sources power the world?
Can renewable energy sources power the world?

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Can renewable energy sources power the world?

9 PV integration into electricity systems

During daylight hours in locations with mainly clear skies, PV power is quite reliable, but in places where passing clouds reduce array output it can be more intermittent. In the UK, most PV power would be produced in summer, when electricity demand is relatively low, but less is produced in winter when demand is higher.

Activity 5

In what ways would national energy systems need to be modified to cope with long, medium and short-term fluctuations in the output of PV arrays?

Answer

Studies show that as long as the capacity of variable output power sources such as PV is fairly small in relation to the overall capacity of the grid (around 10–20%) there should not be a major problem in coping with their fluctuating output. The grid is, after all, designed to cope with large fluctuations in demand, and similarly fluctuating sources of supply like PV can be considered equivalent to ‘negative loads’. Fluctuations would also, of course, be substantially smoothed out if PV power plants were situated in many different locations, subject to widely varying solar radiation and weather patterns.

If PV power stations, and other fluctuating renewable energy sources such as wind power, were in future to contribute a more significant proportion of electricity supplies, then the ‘generating mix’ supplying the grid would have to be changed to include a greater proportion of ‘fast response’ power plant, such as hydro or gas turbines, and increased amounts of short-term storage and/or ‘peaking’ power plant.

The subject of integration of PV and other renewables into electricity systems will be covered in more detail in Week 8

And for the last topic this week, you’ll now look at how the global PV market is growing.

RENBOC_1

Take your learning further371

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses372.

If you are new to university level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. Find out Where to take your learning next?373 You could either choose to start with an Access courses374or an open box module, which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification.

Not ready for University study then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn375 and sign up to our newsletter376 to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371