IDC: Challenges (and some fixes) for high-penetration solar

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By: SGN Staff

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The electric grid was designed to accommodate a predictable flow of power from centralized power plants, and it's taking some serious stretching to accommodate the intermittent and unpredictable nature of distributed solar generation.

 

In a new report, IDC Energy Insights identifies the biggest challenges facing utilities involved in integrating solar photovoltaic installations into the grid as well as key efforts underway by state and federal agencies and the private sector to come up with solutions.

 

The biggest challenges brought on by high penetration solar?

·         Voltage control: There are consequences for voltage levels that are too high or too low. Those extremes that fall outside acceptable limits can shorten the life of equipment in place to keep voltage within acceptable limits

·         Protection: Grid protection systems that provide continuous grid reliability by isolating faults and other disturbances work in a predictable, straightforward way – on a grid without distributed generation like solar PV. But there is no guarantee those protection systems will work on a grid with distributed generation.

·         Power Quality: PV systems can inject unacceptable levels of harmonic distortion into the grid, damaging components. And, normal PV operation can bring about significant changes in voltage levels that exceed acceptable limits.

 

Fortunately, IDC points out, there are major initiatives to find solutions to those challenging technological issues. DOE and the California Public Utilities Commission are among the leaders in funding demonstration and research projects, and organizations such as EPRI, universities and vendors also are involved in the search for solutions.

 

For more information and to order the report, click the link below.

 

High Penetration PV - Challenges and Research Initiatives