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Reactive power provided by solar overnight in ‘UK first’

Image: Lightsource BP

Image: Lightsource BP

Lightsource BP has claimed a UK-first, providing reactive power services to National Grid ESO during nighttime hours using power generated by a solar farm.

Solar inverters at one of Lightsource BP’s solar plants were used to provide reactive power services on 4 November 2019.

Reactive power is the ability to maintain voltage levels on electricity transmission systems, allowing more energy to be transported down existing infrastructure. This increases capacity without upgrading infrastructure.

Solar inverters are capable of providing reactive power by reducing or increasing voltage levels, delivering the voltage change necessary at grid supply point.

The trial comes as part of the ‘Potential Power’ project run by National Grid ESO and UK Power Networks (UKPN), looking into the creation of a new reactive power market for distributed energy resources (DERs) in the South East.

It follows three years of testing and development and was coordinated with UKPN’s control engineers to ensure safety and reliability of the network.

It has the potential to provide up to 4GW of power capacity in the south east and save energy customers over £400 million by 2050.

Kareen Boutonnat, chief operating officer at Lightsource BP, said innovation is “key” to addressing future growth of the energy sector.

“With electricity demand increasing so rapidly we have to be in a constant state of evolution in order to solve the problems of the future.”

National Grid ESO issued a tender for reactive power absorption to solve a high voltage requirement in the Mersey region last month, following a Request for Information for provision of long term reactive power in May.

Biljana Stojkovska, Power Potential Project lead at National Grid ESO, said the increasing amount of renewables coming online requires finding new ways of managing system characteristics such as voltage and the trial is an “exciting first step”.

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