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A million solar roofs: creating a mainstream solar energy market

California aims to build a million solar roofs within 10 years. Two primary questions are at the heart of the successful path forward in California, and beyond: How are PV customers’ electric use patterns different from other residential customers? To what extent does PV mitigate peak demand?

California’s goal to create a mainstream solar energy market is supported by the 2006 Million Solar Roofs law and the California Solar Initiative (2007), a Research, Development, and Deployment and incentive program (RD&D) administered by the California Public Utilities Commission. With over 30,000 PV systems installed, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has connected more solar customers to the electric grid than any other utility company in the country—that’s roughly 40 percent of the installs throughout the entire United States. 

KEMA’s Paula Ham-Su will present the paper “Load Impact of Residential Solar Customers in the Pacific Gas & Electric Service Territory” at DistribuTECH 2011 during the track, Renewables & the Grid, on Tuesday, February 1, 2011.

This paper builds on the analysis KEMA performed for the California Public Utility Commission; it seeks to answer the two primary questions introduced in this post. The paper addresses:
> Energy deliveries to and from the distribution system
> Customer demand patterns versus PV production patterns
> Differences among climate zones
> Net impact on demand at time of PG&E’s system peak

The PG&E impact analysis shows that the average PV customer on the PG&E system uses more electricity than similar non-PV customers. Although the average PV customers have beneficial impacts on demand during many hours, they tend to have less impact on the PG&E system during many of the critical peak system demand hours. This is because the PG&E system peak occurs in the late afternoon, when solar generation drops off rapidly. 

Learn about KEMA’s presence at DistribuTECH 2011.

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