7 May 2013 – Solar energy will not become an integral part of the energy supply system in Europe until suppliers, including private residences, have unlimited access to the energy grid. In practice, this would mean they could supply their self-produced solar energy to the grid at a profitable rate 24/7. This is not yet the case today, mainly due to the limiting price and supply agreements. Consequently, the development of smart grids and energy storage systems will prove decisive in terms of the growth of solar energy in the coming years.

This is what Edwin Koot, CEO of Solarplaza, an international information platform on solar energy, expects to happen. “Grid integration, meaning the interconnection of smart grids and connection to the main grid will be one of the most important aspects of the journey towards a larger share of solar energy in the total energy mix – not only in Europe, but ultimately in the entire world.”

The discussion about grid access is taking place at a time when solar energy in Europe has reached a point where it can maintain its current market position without government support. But for it to achieve a greater share in the energy mix than its current figure of 2% (EPIA − Global Market Outlook for Photovoltaics until 2016), new initiatives are needed.

Henning Wicht, senior director of iSuppli, agrees with Koot and emphasises that smart energy management will be the key to further solar expansion in Europe. “The biggest challenge is to enable the producer to supply energy throughout the entire day – i.e., not only during the afternoon peak hours – and to make this possible for a longer period of time. So-called smart grids and storage facilities can assist. They can help private producers to monitor and control their solar energy supply. This development will shake up the current hierarchy, since it will basically mean that small producers can take control away from the traditional energy utilities.”