IEA-PVPS and European Hybrid Conference

 On the 23rd of April, Geoff Stapleton attended an IEA-PVPS strategies meeting in Stockholm, Sweden. Other Australians in attendance were Muriel Watt, Chair of APVA, and Greg Watt, Australia's expert on Task 1. Geoff has represented Australia on Task 9 for over 10 years. Current tasks of IEA-PVPS include:

  • Task 1: Exchange and dissemination of information on photovoltaic power systems
  • Task 8: Very large scale photovoltaic power generation systems in remote areas
  • Task 9: Deploying PV services for regional development
  • Task 11: PV hybrid systems within mini-grids
  • Task 12: PV environmental health and safety
  • Task 13: Performance and reliability of photovoltaic systems
  • Task 14: High penetration of PV systems in electricity grids
The purpose of the workshop was to develop the strategy for IEA-PVPS tasks and activities relating to the period of 2013 - 2018. Through the collaboration of member countries, IEA-PVPS has developed useful technical and non-technical information. Historically it has aimed at identifying issues in the deployment of PV, working at developing solutions through collaboration and then documenting the outcomes in freely available reports.

Discussions included; what are the upcoming issues for the PV industry that PVPS could be involved with, and how to more widely disseminate the information that is developed by PVPS. The strategy would day would then be used by the executive committee (Exco) to formulate the direction of IEA-PVPS for the next 5 years. The Exco was meeting on the following two days, the 24th and 25th of April.

Geoff then travelled to Chambery, France, to attend the 6th European Hybrids and Mini-Grids conference. There were 175 delegates at the 2 day conference which included formal presentations and a number of poster sessions. A number of the presentations and posters related to the control issues within hybrids and mini-grids. There were also a number of presentations on actual systems installed around the world and the technical/physical issues involved in installing and maintaining those systems in remote regions. One point that was raised many times was the fact that diesel fuel is expensive in these remote regions while PV prices have dropped significantly in recent years thereby making the economics of PV more attractive for hybrids and mini-grids.

Susan Neill and Geoff had prepared a paper and poster titles: Applying lessons learnt from the implementation of Solar Home systems to the implementation of Hybrid systems in developing countries. Those with posters were able to present 2 slides only on their poster to entice people to visit their poster. Susan and Geoff's focus was that the main reasons for system failures in developing countries were generally not technical, and regardless of equipment quality, many other issues needed to be addressed to make the sustainable energy based hybrid systems sustainable!

Chambery is in the French Alps, and Geoff had a day off of driving through the Alps before flying home to Australia - though delayed 22 hours at Heathrow due to plane mechanical issues flying out of France!