Storage, curtailment could support 130 GW of PV in Italy by 2060

A group of scientists argue that centrally managed, flexible PV fleets could be an optimal solution for Italy. And they claim that a mix of storage and curtailment could facilitate the deployment of 130 GW of PV by 2060 at a minimal cost.

A mix of storage and curtailment could be strategically key to achieving 92% penetration of variable renewables at minimal cost in Italy by 2060, according to a new paper by a group of six researchers.

In “Italian protocol for massive solar integration: From solar imbalance regulation to firm 24/365 solar generation,” the researchers note that the PV plants should all be equipped with battery energy storage systems (BESS) and should be optimally oversized. They claim that their proposed baseline scenario would also bring down electricity costs without having any major environmental impact on agricultural land.

They said a storage/curtailment strategy could allow solar to “meet any load profiles as reliably as the thermoelectric plants used today,” with existing technologies (BESS, smart inverters, and remote control) and without a change in electrical grid architecture. The only condition would be that BESS/smart inverter-equipped PV plants should be centrally controlled by the country’s grid operator and managed by power distributors or aggregators.

The researchers believe that the centralized management of a flexible PV fleet could be an optimal solution for Italy. Their findings are in clear opposition to the current self-consumption trend, under which system management occurs at the end-user level, without a large-scale perspective.

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Under their proposed configuration, the final energy mix for 2060 would require 130 GW of PV, 50 GW of wind, 23.9 GW of other renewables, and just 7.98 GW of gas – down significantly from the current levels of 41 GW. Their scenario is based on the objectives of the Italian energy strategy (PNIEC) for 30 GW of solar by 2025 and 62 GW by 2030. By 2030, roughly one-quarter of the PV plants should be flexible, they argued.

Their 2060 scenario would require flexible PV plants to cover a maximum of 0.85% of Italy’s land surface. By 2060, they expect that utility-scale PV and batteries should cost no more than €350 per megawatt and €90 per kilowatt-hour.

The research group includes scientists from Eurac, an Italian research institute.

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