In less than nine months, no permits will be approved for a new home in California that doesn’t include solar power of some sort. It is still not clear what portion of these homes that will come with a contract with a centralized community solar plant, and whether we’ll see 70,000 or 125,000+ new solar homes per year. Regardless, utilities must prepare.
Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) wanted to first better understand if and how smart solar inverters could address power quality problems as solar penetration levels on homes approach 100%, and then to understand the financial effects. The broad conclusion was that when penetration levels hit 100%, smart inverters – via management of Volt-VAR and Volt-Watt functions – could mostly keep the grid from experiencing significant voltage violations or thermal issues. They also found a very limited economic impact over 10 years, either positive or negative, when compared to traditional upgrades with a total net present value of -$4 per customer (net cost) to$57 per customer (net benefit) over 10 years. [click for article]