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PVs, distribution feeders, and T&D system investment and reliability

Photovoltaic (PV) facilities do more than provide energy over the course of the year. PV facilities also impact electrical grid distribution systems. Specifically, PV systems reduce loading on the distribution lines by displacing remote sources of energy. What is the implication for T&D system investment and reliability?

Reduced line loading at the time of peak demand alleviates the need to expand T&D infrastructure. Moreover, by reducing the amount of energy that needs to be delivered to the grid, PV facilities may lower the risk of overloads, which in turn increases overall system reliability.

The precise impact of increasing levels of PV generation on individual distribution feeders can only be determined through analysis of a specific feeder and its connected PV characteristics. However, the greatest level of benefits is generally expected to occur on feeders with one of more of the following characteristics: longer distribution feeders, feeders located in inland climate zones, and feeders that peak in the mid-afternoon hours.

KEMA, in conjunction with Itron, Inc., performed a technical assessment to determine the impacts of the California Solar Initiative on the state’s T&D systems in 2009. KEMA’s Dennis Flinn, David Korinek, and Clay Tutaj will present the paper “Photovoltaic Generation Impacts on Distribution Feeder Performance in California” during the Renewables and the Grid track on Tuesday, February 2, 2011. The paper presents key study findings, identifies impacts of PV facilities on the California IOU distribution systems, and sorts these impacts into groups by selected feeder characteristics.    

Learn more about DistribuTECH 2011.

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