In spite of optimistic projections for distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) generation in the Western U.S. (see Background below), barriers to solar PV deployment exist and their mitigation or removal could facilitate deployment. Western Interstate Energy Board (WIEB), along with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), will conduct research to facilitate mitigation/removal of barriers to distributed solar PV generation.
Deployment of distributed solar PV generation, principally behind-the-meter solar PV systems on residential and commercial rooftops, is accelerating across the U.S. This trend is particularly evident in the Western U.S., where the solar resource is abundant. The following graph illustrates projected nameplate capacity of behind-the-meter solar PV generation, for year 2026, in 11 Western states. California is the leader for deployment of distributed solar PV generation, but several other states are also projected to have significant nameplate capacity deployed by 2026.
Projected distributed solar PV generation (behind-the-meter only) for year 2026 in the Western U.S. by the consultancy E3. Ordinate, nameplate capacity of distributed solar PV generation in megawatts (MW). Note break in y-axis. California is projected to have in excess of 12,000 MW of solar PV generation nameplate capacity. Several other Western states are also projected to have significant solar PV nameplate capacities.
Barriers to solar PV deployment, as noted above, do exist. These barriers fall into three broad categories:
- lengthy timelines for distributed solar PV interconnection with the grid;
- potential grid reliability concerns; and
- concerns with utility rate design
WIEB and its national laboratory partners will work with Technical Advisory Committees to identify and define perceived barriers to deployment of solar PV; conduct research concerning the perceived barriers; identify and define measures that could mitigate or remove the barriers; and conduct outreach to state policy makers and regulators to facilitate mitigation or removal of the barriers.
Total funding for this work is approximately $2.5 million. The work will begin in early 2017, and will be conducted over years 2017-2019.
WIEB is currently soliciting volunteers to serve on Technical Advisory Committees (TACs) to provide NREL with input on its research plans for the interconnection timeline and reliability barriers, as well as feedback on its research findings and final reports. TAC members can be from Western state public utility commissions and energy offices, and from other stakeholder groups such as the solar sector and environmental organizations.
For more information about this project and to volunteer to serve on a TAC, please contact Richard McAllister at WIEB: firstname.lastname@example.org