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Recent ‘auction success’ in Ireland, UK comes with challenges, consultants say

Almost 2 GW of solar was tendered in the latest UK Department for Energy Security and Net Zero auction, while almost 500 MW was recently awarded in the latest auction round spearheaded by Irish power transmission operator EirGrid. But these gains come with five challenges, according to analysts from New Zealand-based consultancy firm PSC.

Over half a dozen issues should be resolved to ensure recently tendered PV projects in Ireland and the UK can be delivered on time, according to analysis penned by two PSC consultants.

Almost 2 GW of solar was tendered in the latest UK Department for Energy Security and Net Zero auction round while almost 500 MW was recently awarded in the latest auction round spearheaded by Irish power transmission operator EirGrid. However, senior PSC consultant Grant McCormick and technical director Chris Smith said a range of improvements need to be made – from regulation to project rollout – to ensure the 2.5 GW gets connected.

Issues include the ever-changing “complexity” of the UK’s Grid Code compliance requirements, requiring developers to be “agile and understand which changes are relevant,” according to their report. This could be solved by hiring a compliance manager experienced in Grid Code regulation, and developers should ensure their engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor is well-resourced and has “agility.”

Developers should also engage with key elements of the supply chain, such as providing detailed simulation models in a specific software application. This would provide evidence that the model is “validated via factory acceptance tests or third-party testing” – not “trivial” matters for suppliers, they said.

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Another fix could be more power system simulation modeling. “The various components that consist of the solar farm – the inverter, power park controller, transformer, and cabling, for instance – need to be modeled as a system against the performance requirements in the respective grid codes,” according to the analysis.

“For timely project delivery, developers must ensure compliance management is established as a key workstream starting from the earliest development phases and carrying on through to project delivery… Working with the right partner in the field can minimize costly delays to the start of operations.”

Last month the Irish government said it expected to install 8 GW of solar by the end of 2023  – a commitment made last year in the “Climate Action Plan 2023.” According to UK government data published in September, there was almost 15 GW of solar PV installed as of June.

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Source: pv magazine