Self-Consumption PV Systems: Page 7 of 10

A utility open to working with the PV industry allows the creation of multiple value streams from PV systems coupled with storage. For example, demand management, time-of-use shifting and voltage regulation programs can create value for both homeowners and utilities. 

Peter Mathews, SolarEdge

Storage systems increase the value to utilities and transmission operators by offering them the ability to provide real-time, truly distributed ancillary services—including frequency regulation, frequency and voltage droop control, power-factor correction, and volt and VAR support—much faster than traditional spinning generation. Market mechanisms will need to be in place to provide incentives for end users and developers to offer these services to the grid.

Kent Sheldon, Greensmith Energy Management Systems

Self-consumption requirements do not limit the value distributed PV generation can provide to the grid. Aggregation of the excess energy generated by distributed systems can provide large-scale renewable energy to the grid. By deploying decentralized large-scale PV-plus-storage systems, utilities can relieve high-congestion areas and reduce interruptions in service without using peaker plants, which are costly to build and operate. Distributed energy storage resources are capable of providing additional services such as frequency regulation, grid management and balance demand response to bolster the grid without requiring large capital investments on the part of utilities. Finally, additional distributed PV with storage deployments gives the utilities renewable resources to fulfill customer load demand while helping them meet mandated clean energy goals.

Greg Smith, sonnen

Self-consumption systems aren’t for everyone. There are a variety of reasons why solar owners may choose to remain connected to the grid. Distributed PV offers great long-term value to both consumers and utilities through the aggregation of individual systems into virtual power plants (VPPs). These VPPs increase grid reliability, provide efficient distribution of locally generated power and reduce the need for utility investment in additional large-scale generation. This offers economic upsides to both PV owners and the local utility.

Stu Statman, Sunverge Energy

The answer depends on whether you consider self-supply systems a means to an end or a step along the path of market evolution. An imperfect analogy is cell phones. At first they were simply an alternative to hard-wired communication. With the advent of smart phones, they became indispensable in day-to-day life, and using them for phone calls is almost tertiary. Today, self-supply systems provide a powerful tool for increasing the ratio of energy independence, but they are essentially an electronic check valve—they allow energy flow in only one direction. To maximize the effectiveness of the grid infrastructure, especially in an increasingly decentralized grid, we need to balance supply and demand. Intelligent inverters with energy storage and generation can provide a powerful tool to deliver bidirectional energy flow of both generation and load when it’s most valuable. The tools exist, but the market and pricing signals to properly reward participation are in their infancy. With the Supreme Court’s ruling reaffirming FERC 745, the tools are going into place to create a market where customers can manage their generation and load in response to pricing signals, thereby increasing the utilization of the grid while returning a profit.

Philip Undercuffler, OutBack Power Technologies

Systems such as the Sunny Home Manager provide an interface to utilities and distribution network operators who can regulate the PV curtailment limit via direct data connection. In such cases, PV plant owners may receive reimbursement for their contribution to grid stability, in the form of incentives or monetary benefits.

Martin Volkmar, SMA Solar Technology

Article Discussion