‘Solar power surge → power overproduction’… Possibility of blackout this spring increased

During the Moon Jae-in administration, solar power generation facilities, which rapidly increased, emerged as the main culprit of ‘overproduction’ in the spring when electricity demand was relatively low. Overproduction of power can lead to blackouts (massive power outages). The desperate government decided to reduce power production from solar power generation facilities in the Honam and Gyeongnam regions from next month. Even so, if the imbalance of power supply and demand is not resolved, even the output of nuclear power plants is suppressed. In this case, cost loss is inevitable.

Solar power generation facilities are installed on the roof of a factory in Gimhae, Gyeongsangnam-do. / yunhap news

On the 24th, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced the ‘Special Measures for Power Supply and Demand in Spring’, which contained these contents, and said, “The rapid increase in solar power generation has increased the difficulty of operating the power system, so the special measures for power supply and demand, which have been prepared only in summer and winter, It will also be established and implemented,” he said.

According to the special measures, from April 1, the government will control the output of up to 1.05 gigawatts (GW) based on facility capacity for photovoltaic facilities with unimproved sustainable operation performance in the Honam and Gyeongnam regions, considering daily weather conditions and power demand. enforce Sustainable operation performance refers to the performance of the inverter to prevent the system from dropping out of renewable energy even at low frequencies and low voltages caused by system failures.

The government’s planned output control capacity of 1.05GW is equivalent to one nuclear power plant. The Ministry of Industry explained, “Output control is first blocked from facilities owned by public institutions, and when capacity is insufficient, it is transferred to facilities owned by private companies.”

In addition, on weekends and holidays when the weather is clear, the Ministry of Industry decided to raise the water in the lower reservoir of the pumped-up plant to the upper part to store excess generated power and minimize the operation of bio-power plants that can control output. If the power supply is overflowing even with these measures, the output of the nuclear power plant will also be adjusted to a limited extent. Regarding the adjustment of nuclear power plant output, the Ministry of Industry said, “We will conduct it within a safe range after comprehensively examining the facility characteristics and technical safety of nuclear power plants.”

It is dark in Hupyeong-dong, Hyoja-dong, and Okcheon-dong, Chuncheon, Gangwon-do, where power outages occurred in February 2023. / yunhap news

The reason the government came up with measures to limit output is because the possibility of a blackout due to excessive production of electricity in the spring is growing day by day. Due to the rapid increase in solar power generation facilities during the Moon Jae-in administration without considering the transmission and distribution network and power demand, the problem of surplus power often occurs in spring when power demand is relatively low. This is the reason why the government established special measures for power supply and demand in the spring, which were prepared only in summer and winter.

According to the Korea Power Exchange, the number of output restrictions in Jeju, which was 15 in 2018, increased significantly to more than 100 last year. If output restrictions become frequent, the government and power generation companies suffer financial losses to that extent. In the case of a nuclear power plant, it is known that an average loss of about 1.5 billion won per day occurs when one unit stops operating.

Lee Ho-hyun, director general of electric power policy at the Ministry of Industry, said, “With the rapid increase in solar power generation, we have to make every effort to manage electricity supply and demand even in the spring from now on.” Please try not to.”

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