7.2 Current and predicted levels of intermittent generation penetration

The current and predicted levels of intermittent generation penetration in various parts of the world, obtained from presentation materials of the IEA Task 14 meetings in Colorado and Lisbon, are summarised in this section.

EU Nations, Turkey and Norway

The potential growth of PV penetration in Europe 27 (European Union Nations), Turkey and Norway is shown in Figure 62. The paradigm shift scenario describes PV moving from being a passive to an active grid element, with the integration of smart inverters, energy management through Demand Side Management (DSM) and storage, and communication technology for eventual optimisation of energy flux over the entire network [49].

Sources: EPIA - EU TREN “European Energy and Transport: trends to 2030 - update 2007” - Eurostat Data Portal - EU Joint Research Centre Photovoltaic Geographical Information System - A.T. Kearney analysis. © EPIA 2009 - www.setfor2020.eu

Figure 62 PV deployment scenarios: Europe 27, Norway and Turkey [4]

Denmark and Germany

According to [50], the Danish Government intends to increase wind capacity by 1.3 GW by 2012 and is targeting 50% (mostly wind) renewable energy generation by 2025. Figure 63 illustrates the increase in renewable energy generation in Germany from 1990 to 2009. As of 2009, PV and wind penetration stood at 9 GW and 26 GW respectively, meaning the total power generation from renewable energy sources, including hydro and biomass exceeds the minimum load of 40 GW. 80% of installed PV is connected to low voltage grids, with 70% of the installations having generating capacity of under 100 kWp (Note: the term kWp refers to kilowatt peak) [51]. The total PV capacity was expected to increase to 15 GW by September 2010, a 67% increase in less than two years. There is an average installed PV capacity of 39kW/km2 in Germany, with peak generation reaching over 10 GW at times. The ratio of installed PV capacity to average annual load for all Distributed System Operators (DSO) in Germany is shown in Figure 64. It can be seen that about 10% of the DSOs have installed PV capacity exceeding their average annual load (i.e. ratio of installed PV capacity to average annual load greater than 1). Seven DSOs have an installed PV capacity of 3-4 times more than their average annual load. The average installed PV capacity for each German DSO is reported to be 34% of their respective average annual load in 2010.

Figure 63 Increase of renewable energy sources in Germany 1990 2009 [51]

Figure 64 Ratio of installed PV capacity over average annual load for German DSOs in 2010 [51]


The Hawaiian Electric Light Company (HELCO) has had a large increase in distributed solar in 2009 and 2010 [52]. The total PV installed capacity, comprising both Net Energy Metering (NEM) and non-export PV installations, in the HELCO network can be seen in Figure 65. The total PV installed capacity currently stands at 5.2% of the annual high peak demand. 25.5% of Hawaii’s power is generated using renewable energy resources, made up of wind (12.9%), hydro and geothermal. The Hawaiian grid system can be characterised by:

  • autonomous system (no interconnections)
  • close to limits of stable operation
  • high penetration of variable generation
  • high penetration of distributed generation
  • large amount of renewable energy from wind, geothermal and solar
  • decreasing demand (negative load growth) in the east side of the island, where HELCO’s generation is located, and a rapid growth on the west side.

Figure 65 HELCO PV installations as % of Annual High Peak, Hawaii [52]


The current and projected dissemination of PV in Japan is shown in Figure 66 [53]. A large proportion (about 70-80%) of Japan’s PV capacity is installed on residential properties. A residential PV system subsidy program was introduced in January 2009 to encourage a higher rate of PV uptake among residential customers. With the introduction of this new program, Japan’s total PV installed capacity saw a 10-fold increase in five years from 1.4 GW in 2005 to 14 GW in 2010. This capacity is predicted to double to 28 GW by 2020.

Figure 66 PV Dissemination target of Japan [53]


A presentation of the predicted power generation mix for Europe from five different studies is illustrated in Figure 67 [54]. These levels of RES, carbon capture and storage (CCS) and nuclear are required to achieve complete decarbonisation of energy demand with an average level of 52% expected for RES.

Power generation mix according to different studies


Figure 67 Projected European generation mix from five different studies [54]

A table illustrating the magnitude (in MW) and percentage of RES generation in Spain is shown in Table 9 [55]. The installed PV capacity has increased from 139 MW in 2006 to 3634 MW in January 2010, a 26-fold increase in four years. The contribution of wind and solar power (PV and CSP), as a percentage of Spain’s total demand in 2010 was recorded as 15.6% and 2.4% respectively. Spain’s renewable energy plan targets a PV capacity of 8367 MW by 2020. Neighbouring Portugal has a goal of 1500 MW installed solar capacity by 2020, with the majority of the installations in the southern part of the country where the irradiation level is highest [56].

Table 9 Percentage of RES for Spain [55]

Technology MW % of total generation
Wind power generation 19976 20.9
Solar PV 3634 3.8
Solar CSP 630 0.7
Biomass 684 0.7
Special regime hydro 1965 2.1
Cogeneration 5946 6.2
Waste treatment 1204 1.3
Total 34,039 35.7


The growth of installed PV capacity in China since 2004 is shown in Table 10 [57]. A majority of the installations were standalone systems (off-grid) until a sudden spike in grid-tied installations in 2009. The installed PV capacity in China as at 2010 stands at 800 MW, with 190 MW of Building Integrated PV (BIPV) and Building Applied PV (BAVP) installed in 2010 alone. In addition, 65 large-scale PV plants, ranging in size from 1 MW to 20 MW, were installed by the end of 2010 with a total capacity of 400 MW. Table 11 presents China’s targeted PV capacity by 2015 and 2020 [57]. It can be seen that a large increase in PV capacity is predicted from both large-scale solar plants and building PV (both BIPV and BAPV) installations.

Table 10 PV installation in China [57]

Year 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
Off-Grid (MW) 8.8 7.4 9 17.8 19 18 25
On-Grid (MW) 1.2 1.5 1 2.2 21 142 475
Annual Inst. 10 7.9 10 20 40 160 500
Cumulative (MW) 62.1 70 80 100 140 300 800

Table 11 China’s PV targets for 2015 and 2020 [57]

PV Baseline Target in China (GW)
Market Sector 2010 2015 2020
Rural electrification 0.075 0.5 2.0
Communication and Industry 0.042 0.1 1.0
PV Commercial Products 0.040 0.1 1.0
BIPV and BAPV 0.256 1.5 5.0
LS-PV 0.387 2.6 10.0
Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) 0.0 0.2 2.0
Total 0.80 5.0 21.0

To assist in achieving this target, three Chinese government projects are currently active:

  • In Western China, 280 MW of PV is planned consisting of two 30 MW and eleven units of 20 MW systems.
  • The first phase of The Golden Sun demonstration project installed 201 MW in 2009 with 50% subsidy for grid-connected and 70% subsidy for off-grid projects. The second phase began in October 2010 with 50 projects approved totalling 272 MW. 1 GW of PV per year will be installed from 2012.
  • Phase 1 of a BIPV/BAPV initiative resulted in 90 MW of PV installed, with a subsidy of 1.27 Billion Yuan ($190 Million AUD). The second phase included 99 installations totalling 90.2 MW, with a subsidy of 1.195 Billion Yuan ($180 million AUD), which began in April 2010. The third phase began in January 2011 and is looking at installing around 200 MW with 50% subsidy.

The global cumulative PV installed capacity, as at the end of 2010, is 39.6 GW [56].