Toolbox Entry: Too much of a good thing? Global trends in the curtailment of solar PV

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Last edited on 27/11/2022 by Hector Alfaro
(Date format: DD/MM/YYYY)

General Information

ID Number
Main Author
O'Shaughnessy, Eric; Cruce, Jesse R.; Xu, Kaifeng
Publication Year
Type of Entry
Active management of distribution grid
  • Control Solutions
  • Congestion Management
Enabling Distributed Technologies
  • Distributed generation (solar)

Which of the above categories best describe the material
Active management of distribution grid


Journal or conference name
Solar Energy
Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems generate electricity with no marginal costs or emissions. As a result, PV output is almost always prioritized over other fuel sources and delivered to the electric grid. However, PV curtailment is increasing as PV composes greater shares of grid capacity. In this paper, we present a novel synthesis of curtailment in four key countries: Chile, China, Germany, and the United States. We find that about 6.5 million MWh of PV output was curtailed in these countries in 2018. We find that: Policy and grid planning practices influence where, when, and how much PV is curtailed; Some PV curtailment is attributable to limited transmission capacity connecting remote solar resources to load centers; PV curtailment peaks in the spring and fall, when PV output is relatively high but electricity demand is relatively low. We discuss available measures to reduce PV curtailment as well as increasing PV curtailment in the contexts of evolving grids and energy technologies.