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Demand Response Helps German Grid Prepare for Solar Eclipse

When a solar eclipse takes 12 GW of photovoltaic generation off Germany’s grid around 9:30AM March 20, then allows 19 GW to return around noon, demand response will be a key ingredient for grid operators seeking to avoid costly blackouts, writes Jörg Haug on EnerNOC’s EnergySMART blog.

“In a worst case scenario, Europeans could face rolling blackouts while the grid struggles to keep up with demand,” Haug writes. “One hour of blackout in Berlin around lunchtime would cost at least $25 million, and if all of Germany were affected, that would rise to about $600 million.”

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Transmission system operators (TSOs) will have two issues to deal with: meeting demand while solar facilities are offline, and accommodating a flood of incoming generation when the eclipse ends. German TSOs “are carefully coordinating to make sure there is enough power to keep the lights on, and that the grid is resilient enough to respond when the eclipse ends,” he notes.

Demand response is usually seen strictly as a way to reduce energy use during periods of peak demand. But in sophisticated markets like Germany’s, “demand response assets can be deployed to both decrease and increase demand. Demand can be dramatically reduced by paying large energy users to use less,” then ramped back up by paying them again “to increase demand above and beyond normal levels, such as encouraging a cold storage facility to increase cooling load.”