Smart inverters for solar panels offer more possibilities to keep the electricity grid reliable and to use solar energy. However, the smart functions are not or hardly used in the Netherlands, according to the research that the FAN foundation commissioned by DELTA-EE.
Inverters and solar panels
If you want solar panels on your roof, you also need an inverter in addition to the solar panels. The inverter ensures that the direct current (d.c) supplied by the solar panels is converted to alternating current (a.c.).
Inverters come in different types. The simplest inverters on the market offer possibilities to keep track of how much power your solar panels have generated. The most advanced inverters in the market, the so-called smart inverters, can do more. Smart inverters also make it easier to make optimal use of solar energy, which can offer additional benefits if the dutch netting arrangement disappears. The functionalities of the smart inverters can also be used to help optimize the electricity grid.
Peaks in the electricity grid
The growing demand for electricity sometimes causes temporary shortages in the electricity grid, so-called peak loads. Consider, for example, a sunny summer day where the solar panels generate a lot of electricity and feed it back into the electricity grid, but at the same time the demand for electricity is low. This can cause a peak in the electricity grid. The network operators, responsible for the electricity grid, want to prevent this as much as possible in order to keep the electricity grid reliable.
Not yet fully utilized
Smart inverters can help with that. The smart inverters make it easy to use as much as possible of the electricity that a household has generated instead of feeding it back into the electricity grid. This can be done, for example, with the electric heat pump, boiler or air conditioning so that they switch on when the sun is shining. Or think of charging the electric car or home battery with the electricity generated by our own solar panels. In this way, inverters can help prevent peaks in the electricity grid. Also, this is expected to be more profitable in the future for households than supplying energy back to the electricity grid.
These functionalities smart inverters offer are not yet used in the Netherlands. According to the FAN foundation, this is a missed opportunity and it calls on installers and suppliers to supply as many smart inverters as possible, so that in the near future smart inverters can be used to help keep the electricity grid reliable and allow households to benefit optimally from the solar energy that they have generated themselves.