According to data from the Association for Accumulation and Photovoltaics (CAFT), power companies connected more than 240 megawatts (MW) of new photovoltaics last year, which is nearly four times as much year-on-year. More than 300 megawatts of new photovoltaics have been built, but not yet connected to the grid. This year, the number should rise significantly again, and Ales Hradecki, president of CAFT, estimates that up to 750 MW of new capacity could be built.
However, the rate of connectivity and demand is growing so rapidly that in some regions of the Czech Republic, distributors connecting to new photovoltaic (PVE) plants are at the edge of capacity.
“The situation is particularly tense in Moravia and Silesia due to the small number of substations, their age and technical condition. At the same time, consumption is not concentrated here, for example, in Central Bohemia or Prague,” said Dominic Onderczyk, Solar Solutions Manager of Novinkám.
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According to him, the problem is not only physical, but also theoretical. He noted that “a lot of legal entities have applied for significant communication capabilities and thus prevented the specified performance, although many of them will not be implemented in the foreseeable future or at all.”
In some cases, the situation has reached such an extent that the distributor refused a request to connect electrical equipment to the distribution system. Ondrůšek pointed out that the refusal can take several forms, however, it is by no means a complete ban on the construction of photovoltaic power plants.
One variant is that the distributor simply prohibits the connection of photovoltaic cells to the grid and only allows what is called a simplified connection, where the person concerned is not allowed to let any excess power into the grid. The second possibility is the fact that the distributor allows excess power to be sent into the grid only up to a certain limit. Ondrůšek added: “In the third variant, the distributor will delay the source connection for a while, that is, tell you that he plans to rebuild the line in a certain place within x months and then let you connect.”
One of the distributors, the EG.D company of the E.ON energy group, has published the so-called contact map to the distribution system, highlighting areas where the possibilities of connecting more photovoltaic stations to sell electricity are limited. If blue shaded lines appear when you zoom in with your mouse to a specific area on the map, this means that only the production plant can be connected at that location without the possibility of delivery to the distribution network.
“Even in the currently limited areas, customers can buy photovoltaics, only now they cannot be brought into the grid. Libor Kolash, Head of Development and Acquisitions at EG.D.
ČEZ Distribution, which together with the mentioned EG.D and Pražská energetika is the operator of the distribution system in the Czech territory, also has several sites where a large number of PV plants are already connected. “So far, we have not permanently closed any region, however, in some regions we are already at the limit of possibilities and capacity,” Soňa Holingerová, spokeswoman for Novinka, admitted at the end of last year.
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“With regard to the localities, this includes the Usti region, the Karlovy Vary region, the Pilsen-Tachov region, Olomouc and the Moravian-Silesian region. However, it is not a question of closing entire regions, it is always individual transformer stations in the mentioned regions.”
Billions of dollars investments
The long-term solution to these problems is to invest in modernizing the distribution network. ČEZ Distribuce annually invests approximately 14.5 billion crowns in its networks, and a large part of this is preparing networks for photovoltaic power plants, Holingerová said.
EG.D also announced a few days ago that it will invest more than seven billion crowns in the distribution network this year, which is about two billion crowns more than in recent years. “The increase in investment is mainly due to the rapidly growing interest in connecting renewable sources, especially photovoltaic power plants, the number of connection requests for which increased by 430 percent in the last year alone,” said spokesman Roman Obergak.
“Power distributors invest billions of crowns annually to strengthen and modernize the distribution network, so new capacity will be created over time, but now it is clear that they will lag behind demand,” Onderchik concluded.
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