Self-Consumption PV Systems: Page 5 of 10

What is your perspective on regulatory changes impacting net energy metering in US locations such as Hawaii and Nevada?
Are these changes driving the deployment of self-consumption PV systems?

If a self-consumption system is the only way to install grid-tied PV and the financials come out positive, then people will continue to install systems. From the point of view of the customer, NEM is a free and 100% efficient energy storage system, and replacing it with another solution will always add to the system cost.

Marvin Hamon, PE, Hamon Engineering

NEM is under review in nearly every state, and I have mixed feelings about the attacks on it. In the short term, it’s a simple regulatory incentive to increase distributed PV. However, to step back a little, it is true that as PV penetration levels increase, the utility has increased problems maintaining grid integrity. PV system owners surely want the grid to be there when the sun isn’t shining, so the utility has to maintain the infrastructure as though PV isn’t there, while conversely having the flexibility to reduce grid production when PV generation is high. In addition, there is a basic disconnect between PV production and load, as illustrated by the fabled “duck curve” in California, where the utility has to go from very low midday production, driving wholesale markets for power negative, to the main peak of the day at 6 pm, a huge swing comprising GWs of capacity in a very short period of time. All this is to say that NEM doesn’t accurately reflect the utility costs of maintaining the grid’s stability. At some point, the utility rate structure should become transparent to the end users, with pricing based on the actual stressors on the grid. This transparency will drive innovative approaches to distributed PV, create an incentive for storage, and generally result in a more robust, flexible and resilient grid.

Wes Kennedy, Fronius USA

Changes in NEM are driving a movement toward self-consumption. NEM was great for kick-starting the solar industry and has helped create 200,000 jobs in this country. However, when PV penetration climbs as it has in Hawaii, significant numbers of people are essentially not paying for the luxury of being connected to the grid. It is fair for the owner of a solar home to pay  a reasonable fee for transmission and distribution assets, but the solar homeowner should not have to pay a tax to maintain aging fossil fuel generation assets.

Neil Maguire, JuiceBox

Changes to NEM will probably increase the deployment of self-consumption PV systems in the future, but not until the electric utilities start imposing and enforcing caps on the total amount of export-generating grid-connected distributed energy resources (DER). I do not anticipate customer self-supply, as it’s called here in Hawaii, taking off for several years until the utilities close the door to export-generating DER.

Marco Mangelsdorf, president, ProVision Solar

Because the typical energy usage of a homeowner does not match the daytime energy generation of a PV system, adjustments in NEM policies will likely promote more self-consumption with storage. With more than 70 PV markets in the US, grid structures vary throughout the country. We will likely see many variations in policy and rate structure. 

Peter Mathews, SolarEdge

NEM changes will absolutely drive the demand and installation of self-consumption PV systems, especially in regions with high energy prices. The US PV industry in these regions will shrink dramatically without self-consumption storage systems (we’ve already seen this happen in Hawaii). PV integrators will either have to install PV with storage or significantly reduce the size of traditional grid-tied PV systems to insure zero export during peak hours. Self-consumption systems will also become popular in markets that allow net power export without compensation, when the utility rates justify the price of the self-consumption system.

Kent Sheldon, Greensmith Energy Management Systems

Stability in regulatory frameworks and permitting guidelines for jurisdictions are beneficial to the entire energy industry. They allow the industry to drive efficiencies, lower costs and help create a framework that enables stakeholders to coexist and build their respective businesses. Grid operators and utilities need to consider the increasing challenges that the growing deployment of renewables poses. However, they need to address these challenges in ways that allow the use of technological solutions to mitigate these effects. Changes in NEM and retail rates in places such as Hawaii and Nevada have people looking for alternatives and better ways to increase self-consumption of renewables, which is where storage plays a key role. As seen in Germany, changes in tariffs will drive self-consumption and therefore increase the deployment of right-sized solar systems and solar systems with energy storage. Deploying distributed battery storage on the grid will also mitigate the challenges of large load and intermittent generation sources, helping grid operators and regulatory entities operate a more stable grid.

Greg Smith, sonnen

Article Discussion

Related Articles