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On November 4th 2019, we successfully used one of our solar farms in East Sussex, UK to provide a reactive power voltage support service at night. The successful trial meant that we become the first company in the UK to provide a reactive power service from a solar plant at night.
Reactive power? What’s that?
Reactive power is the ability to maintain voltage levels on electricity transmission systems, allowing more energy to be transported down existing infrastructure and increasing capacity without the need for infrastructure upgrades. We use our inverters to provide reactive power, delivering the voltage change necessary at a grid supply point, which is managed by National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO).
The reactive power provided by our solar plant in East Sussex was delivered through UK Power Networks’ distribution network. We coordinated the test with UK Power Networks’ control engineers – they monitored the trial, ensuring network safety and reliability while making sure there was no negative impact on customers. Now that we know our solar sites can provide reactive power at night, we have the potential to help National Grid ESO manage voltage on the transmission network.
Hard work paying off
The trial follows three years of testing and development, and forms part of the joint National Grid ESO and UK Power Networks ‘Power Potential’ project. It’s an important milestone for solar, with the potential to offer savings as well as provide up to an additional 4 GW of power capacity in the region, and over £400m in energy savings by 2050.
For more information, see our press release.