Increased solar penetration creates opportunities and challenges.
The traditional electric grid continues to operate smoothly at current levels of solar, but as solar grows we need utilities to get smart.
The California Solar & Storage Association was an active participant in the Smart Inverter Working Group, which developed technical requirements for advanced inverter functionality. The first wave of requirements kicked in recently and will have minimal impact on inverter cost or power output while helping the grid manage irregularities. Two other phases will take effect soon. Some of the new functions have the potential to reduce power output, so we need to create compensation mechanisms for customers that choose to provide grid services.
Utilities are also under a mandate to update their grid planning process to better incorporate distributed generation. This will involve analysis of how much capacity already exists to host more solar and storage at every point on the grid. This analysis is enabling an overhaul of the interconnection review process. We are also working with utilities to develop tools to determine where solar and storage can best avoid costly grid upgrades. Utilities will solicit bids for distributed resources in optimal locations, and the California Public Utilities Commission will seek to incorporate locational benefits into future utility tariffs.
These developments create challenges in maintaining a strong opportunity for all customers to go solar, but also open opportunities to be compensated for the full value of resources that are targeted to grid needs.