Large share of solar energy imposes a higher system flexibility to resolve the increased demand/supply imbalance due to the inherent intermittency and variability of the resource. In this work, we demonstrate that the additional solar-induced flexibility requirement can be fully provided by a special kind of solar farms, namely flexible PV. These plants are able to provide ancillary services by proactive generation curtailment and storage power injection and they can be managed exactly as the secondary reserve currently used. At the current and future penetration levels, we sized the flexible PV fleet required to reduce the Italian imbalance by 36 % (with respect to its 2016 value) while keeping the curtailment at 6 % of the national PV generation. We show how this result can be achieved at an equal or lower dispatching cost than current cost (depending on the solar share). In addition, we found that a fleet composed of many flexible PV plants with different capacity randomly distributed throughout the country provides an optimal solar regulation performance. Finally, we showed that the effectiveness of the proposed imbalance mitigation strategy depends only slightly on the year-specific load, wind, PV and energy prices profiles used to size the capacity of the flexible fleet.

Download case study »