Solar power has become essential to our renewable energy landscape, offering clean and sustainable electricity generation. However, two challenges often hinder the full potential of solar energy: curtailment and clipping.
In this blog post, we’ll unravel these concepts and explore how they impact the efficiency of solar power systems.
What is curtailment?
Curtailment occurs when a solar photovoltaic (PV) system generates more electricity than the local grid or infrastructure can effectively handle. This excess energy is essentially wasted or deliberately curtailed to prevent overloading the grid, and it can happen for a variety of reasons:
- Excess Solar Generation: On bright and sunny days, your solar panels may produce more electricity than your immediate needs.
- Grid Limitations: The local electricity grid might lack the capacity to accept surplus solar power.
- Regulatory Restrictions: Some regions have regulations or agreements that limit the amount of solar energy a PV system can feed into the grid.
Curtailment represents a missed opportunity to harness renewable energy and reduce carbon footprint.
What is clipping?
Clipping is when a solar PV system reaches its maximum power output, causing energy loss. This typically occurs on exceptionally sunny days when the solar panels operate at their peak capacity. Still, the inverter (which converts the DC power generated by the panels into usable AC power) can’t keep up. The result is a “clipping” of the energy curve, leading to energy wastage.
To mitigate these issues, you should consider the following strategies:
- Proper System Sizing: Ensure your solar system is appropriately sized to match your energy needs, preventing excess generation that leads to curtailment.
- Inverter Selection: Choose inverters with a higher capacity or oversized relative to the panel capacity to reduce clipping.
- Technological Solutions: Explore options like energy storage (batteries) and smart grid integration to help store excess energy and optimize its use.
Regulatory and Policy Considerations:
According to Solar Power Europe, Europe is entering an era of solar abundance. In 2022, the EU installed over 40 gigawatts of solar capacity, marking an increase of almost 50% compared to the installations in 2021.
However, while 2023 will likely deliver another record summer for solar generation, we risk continuing to waste solar energy in these summer months due to increased solar curtailment.
In a collective letter to their governments, 19 European solar and renewables associations have presented solutions to tackle solar waste (curtailment):
- Improve Grid Preparedness
- Accelerate Permitting, Construction, & Digitalisation
- Massively promote flexible resources
- Ensure the economic framework
How does this impact your solar inspection results?
Thermal inspection is unsuitable in either of these conditions, resulting in inaccurate and misleading data. It is best to avoid thermal data acquisition under such conditions.
Get in touch to discuss how digitalization can help optimize your solar output!
Curtailment and clipping pose challenges in the solar energy industry, but with careful planning, technology advancements, and supportive policies, we can maximize the potential of solar power. Understanding and addressing these issues can harness clean and sustainable energy while reducing our carbon footprint.