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Working towards photovoltaics becoming a mainstream energy source

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Photovoltaics (PV) have the potential to become a major source of renewable energy and clean electricity in the future and can provide a significant share of European electricity demand. However, there are several challenges that need to be addressed prior to the widespread adoption and utilization of PV technologies. For example, the electricity generation cost for PV systems needs to be reduced and the efficiency of converting sunlight into electricity needs to increase. Also, as the market share of PV grows, concerns about potential impacts on the stability and operation of the electricity grid could create barriers to their future expansion. In addition, low cost, high-quality integration of PV in buildings and other objects poses major development challenges.

The PV2GRID (“A Next Generation Grid Side Converter with Advanced Control and Power Quality Capabilities”) project, funded by the European Union’s SOLAR-ERA.NET initiative, aims to provide technological solutions to some of the key challenges which need to be addressed in order to make PV a mainstream and cost-efficient energy source and to allow the smooth integration of considerably more PV systems within the power grid. This would help to unlock the potential for making PV a mainstream energy source.

The project focuses on developing a new generation Grid Side Converter (GSC), based on power electronic technology, with advanced control capabilities and novel operational mode approaches, i.e., provide support to the grid when needed, enhance power system stability, improve the power quality of the grid, and reduce network losses.

Existing GSCs are still not capable of advanced control features that enable the full control of PV systems, thus hindering their smooth integration. The GSCs designed and developed in this project will improve the overall performance of PV plants by ensuring the efficient and effective grid integration of PV systems under any grid conditions. Additionally, the new GSCs will be enhanced with novel operational functionalities that will allow new operating approaches, bringing new multifunctional industrial products for the grid integration of several new technologies.

This technology is particularly relevant for Cyprus benefiting from substantial sunshine and Solar Irradiation (SI) all year round. A high penetration of PVs would help Cyprus to achieve its climate and energy targets for 2020. Since the power system of Cyprus is islanded, the only way to achieve a high penetration of RES is by advancing the grid-connection of PV systems through improved GSCs, enhanced with additional functionalities for supporting the power grid.

Prof. Elias Kyriakides from the KIOS Research Center is coordinating the project, while the project’s consortium includes Quantum Energy Corporation Limited and Aalborg University.

This project is funded by the Research Promotion Foundation (RPF, Cyprus), by Energinet.dk (ForskEL, Denmark) and the SOLAR-ERA.NET (European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme)