EUROPE On 20 March a solar eclipse will pass over the Atlantic Ocean and will be visible across Europe. The reduction in solar radiation is expected to have a notable impact on the operation of the European power system for the first time.

According to Entso-E (European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity), the Continental European region will have almost 90 GW of installed photovoltaic (PV) capacity on 20 March. The eclipse will start at roughly 08:30 a.m. in most European countries and will end two and a half hours later.

When compared with clear sky conditions, the PV output may drop by 34 GW (37 per cent) in Continental Europe at 9:41 a.m. (UTC) according to Entso-E.

Close cooperation
Germany, with roughly 40 GW of installed PV capacity, will experience a maximum solar obscuration of 76 per cent during the eclipse.

Andreas Rinck, Manager of Forecasting & STO Continental at Vattenfall in Germany, says:
“We estimate the change in power input by PV to be up to 18 GW per hour (45 per cent). One way to handle this could be to switch off parts of the PV panels to secure grid stability.”

Vattenfall is also managing solar production in its German portfolio. The decrease caused by the solar eclipse will affect the company on a sunny day.

Rinck notes that Vattenfall’s short term forecasting desk in Hamburg is planning an additional shift to secure a high-quality forecast for 20 March.
“We cooperate closely with our weather data providers in order to be prepared. The impact of the eclipse will vary substantially depending on the weather conditions that day.”

The solar eclipse is not expected to have any effect on the forecast for Vattenfall’s German sales portfolio.

TSO:s to cooperate
Entso-E urges European transmission system operators (TSOs) to cooperate:
”Some countries are not affected by PV variations, but can support the other TSOs by providing them with reserves. The main challenge for the TSOs will be to coordinate the use of the reserves in order to balance the power in real time without creating overloads on the grid.”

Entso-E’s report

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