CSIRO report finds solar intermittency can be managed

It’s no secret that solar energy can be an intermittent power supply. Passing clouds can cast shadows on solar generators, interrupting a steady supply of electricity to the grid.

So what happens as Australia builds more and more solar power stations? It’s important to know whether we can maintain a stable and reliable grid despite the intermittent nature of renewable technologies.

A new CSIRO report, released today, opens with a statement setting the scene:

Whilst much is said about the effect of intermittency on electricity networks, the information shared and views expressed are often anecdotal, difficult to verify and limited to a particular technical, geographical or social context. There is surprisingly very little real-world data on how intermittency, particularly solar intermittency, affects electricity networks.

This report, entitled Solar intermittency: Australia’s clean energy challenge, is a first step toward filling this gap in our knowledge. It’s the result of a 12-month study by CSIRO, the Energy Networks Association (ENA), and Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) into solar intermittency. It provides an analysis of worldwide research, examining what conclusions can be drawn and applied to the Australian context. Funding was provided by the Australian Solar Institute (ASI). You can read more about the research, its findings, and our partners here.

One key finding is that solar intermittency can be managed. Important steps on the path to achieving this will include having access to accurate solar forecasting, and being able to carry out further research and demonstration studies in Australia.

Click here to download the full report (PDF, 6 MB).

Lead author Saad Sayeef spoke to Solar@CSIRO about the report, its findings, and future research. Click the video below (2:07 min) to watch.

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