• A report by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory looks at how utilities in the US can incorporate and plan for distributed solar PV in their processes
  • It assesses 30 utility integrated resource plans and other related material to study the current scenario and best practices
  • The report lays down nine key planning areas that can help incorporate distributed solar PV into the utility planning process

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory says utilities in the US need to plan ahead for the rapid growth of distributed solar PV (DPV) in its planning processes. Though California, New York and New England have started incorporating these in their processes, yet a lot more needs to be done. In its latest study titled ‘Planning for a Distributed Disruption: Innovative Practices for Incorporating Distributed Solar into Utility Planning’, the authors suggest areas where the best practices can be further enhanced.

The report looks closely at some 30 recent utility integrated resource plans or other generation planning studies, transmission planning studies, and distribution system plans. According to the report, DPV can be incorporated across nine key planning areas into the utility planning process.

These nine key areas are:

  • Forecasting DPV deployment
  • Ensuring robustness of decisions to uncertain DPV quantities
  • Characterizing DPV as a resource option
  • Incorporating the non-dispatchability of DPV into planning
  • Accounting for DPV’s location-specific factors
  • Estimating DPV’s impact on transmission and distribution investments
  • Estimating avoided losses associated with DPV
  • Considering changes in DPV’s value with higher solar penetration
  • Integrating DPV in planning across generation, transmission, and distribution

The scope of the research work touches upon electric infrastructure planning with regard to IRPs, transmission and distribution. Within these, it strives to offer suggestions how DPV growth can be accounted for within planning studies.

The study comes at the right time as the role of solar in the renewable energy space of the US is quickly growing. In Q2/2016, the country saw additions of over 2 GW of new PV capacity. In 2016, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and GTM Research predict the country to add 13.5 GW of total PV capacity .

The August 2016 report was funded by the Office of Energy Efficiency and
Renewable Energy (Solar Energy Technologies Program) of the US Department of Energy

The detailed report can be accessed here.