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Shortage of the power grid, more and more complaints about solar panel failure

Shortage of the power grid, more and more complaints about solar panel failure

The power grid in the north of the Netherlands is having a hard time due to the increasing consumption of electricity. Energy-intensive businesses and residential areas have not been built for a while, in order to lighten the power grid. What if you want to generate your own power? There is usually enough space on the grid, but on a sunny day the solar panels fail.

Not only using electricity, but generating electricity yourself also needs a powerful electricity grid – if you want to provide additional electricity. Grid operator Liander reports that in large parts of West Friesland and Amsterdam the power grid is full. For households equipped with solar panels, there is nothing to worry about: there is enough room for the little energy you generate.

It can get worse on sunny days. More energy is then generated than consumed, which means that households can actually put a lot back into the electricity grid. Old power grids can’t handle that and solar panels are temporarily turned off. No energy is generated after that and the owners lose money, because it is precisely with the additional energy that they can earn.

The shutdown has to do with the mains voltage. Having a lot of current on the network and a small number of consumers means that the mains voltage is rising. If the voltage is too high, the inverters in the solar panels are automatically turned off for safety reasons. The shutdown is accidental and may take a few minutes or several hours depending on the circumstances.

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Increasing number of complaints

The number of complaints about this has increased in the past four years, and doubled in 2021. It is unclear how often this problem occurs, because people have to notice it themselves and report it to the network operator.

Rob Boerlage of the Noord-Holland Zon Foundation states that this can really be a problem some days, although he doesn’t hear much concern about this from his clients. Generally, the solar panels of individuals mainly provide energy for their families. During the day, you can use it yourself right away and the network hardly suffers from the little extras it generates.”

Lying about Australia

On sunny days it is sometimes heard that things go wrong. Boerlage states that with tricks, such as “lying” the inverter you’re on in Australia, you can ensure that the inverter turns off at a lower speed. Grid operator Liander gives advice to consume a lot of energy yourself if you generate a lot, by washing clothes or charging an electric car.

According to Boerlage, the $1 billion expansion of Liander’s power grid is badly needed. “There is no proper way to store solar energy on your own: batteries are often too expensive and you still have to use electricity in a few days. You can’t save it for the winter as sometimes thought. If we want to become more sustainable, the grid must be improved.”