Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Will Rooftop Solar Really Add to Utility Costs?

Installing Rooftop PV Panels(Photo Credit: Lester Lefkowitz / Click to Enlarge.
Regulations in most states obligate utilities to derive some of their electricity generating capacity from renewable sources.  Unsurprisingly, the most widely available options—wind and solar—dominate.  The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that by 2050, solar photovoltaic (PV) power generation will contribute 16 percent of the world’s electricity, and 20 percent of that capacity will come from from residential installations.

By offering local generation, residential or rooftop PV reduces the need for transmission facilities to move power from large generating stations to distribution substations.  But the effect on the distribution grid is less straightforward.  The conventional distribution grid is designed for neither two-way power flow nor large generation capacity.  So the prevailing thought is that the grid will need a costly upgrade to accommodate the high PV penetration. Our study within the Full Cost of Electricity program aims to estimate the cost of maximizing residential PV capacity without any grid impacts.  The bottom line?  We found that even without hardware upgrades to the distribution circuits, such circuits can handle significant solar generation.

Read more at Will Rooftop Solar Really Add to Utility Costs?

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