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Title: Planning for a Distributed Disruption: Innovative Practices for Incorporating Distributed Solar into Utility Planning

Abstract

The rapid growth of distributed solar photovoltaics (DPV) has critical implications for U.S. utility planning processes. This report informs utility planning through a comparative analysis of roughly 30 recent utility integrated resource plans or other generation planning studies, transmission planning studies, and distribution system plans. It reveals a spectrum of approaches to incorporating DPV across nine key planning areas, and it identifies areas where even the best current practices might be enhanced. 1) Forecasting DPV deployment: Because it explicitly captures several predictive factors, customer-adoption modeling is the most comprehensive forecasting approach. It could be combined with other forecasting methods to generate a range of potential futures. 2) Ensuring robustness of decisions to uncertain DPV quantities: using a capacity-expansion model to develop least-cost plans for various scenarios accounts for changes in net load and the generation portfolio; an innovative variation of this approach combines multiple per-scenario plans with trigger events, which indicate when conditions have changed sufficiently from the expected to trigger modifications in resource-acquisition strategy. 3) Characterizing DPV as a resource option: Today’s most comprehensive plans account for all of DPV’s monetary costs and benefits. An enhanced approach would address non-monetary and societal impacts as well. 4) Incorporating the non-dispatchabilitymore » of DPV into planning: Rather than having a distinct innovative practice, innovation in this area is represented by evolving methods for capturing this important aspect of DPV. 5) Accounting for DPV’s location-specific factors: The innovative propensity-to-adopt method employs several factors to predict future DPV locations. Another emerging utility innovation is locating DPV strategically to enhance its benefits. 6) Estimating DPV’s impact on transmission and distribution investments: Innovative practices are being implemented to evaluate system needs, hosting capacities, and system investments needed to accommodate DPV deployment. 7) Estimating avoided losses associated with DPV: A time-differentiated marginal loss rate provides the most comprehensive estimate of avoided losses due to DPV, but no studies appear to use it. 8) Considering changes in DPV’s value with higher solar penetration: Innovative methods for addressing the value changes at high solar penetrations are lacking among the studies we evaluate. 9) Integrating DPV in planning across generation, transmission, and distribution: A few states and regions have started to develop more comprehensive processes that link planning forums, but there are still many issues to address.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [1];  [1];  [2];  [2];  [2];  [3]
  1. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
  2. National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
  3. Independent Consultant
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1332539
Report Number(s):
LBNL-1006047
ir:1006047
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
14 SOLAR ENERGY; 29 ENERGY PLANNING, POLICY, AND ECONOMY

Citation Formats

Mill, Andrew, Barbose, Galen, Seel, Joachim, Dong, Changgui, Mai, Trieu, Sigrin, Ben, and Zuboy, Jarrett. Planning for a Distributed Disruption: Innovative Practices for Incorporating Distributed Solar into Utility Planning. United States: N. p., 2016. Web. doi:10.2172/1332539.
Mill, Andrew, Barbose, Galen, Seel, Joachim, Dong, Changgui, Mai, Trieu, Sigrin, Ben, & Zuboy, Jarrett. Planning for a Distributed Disruption: Innovative Practices for Incorporating Distributed Solar into Utility Planning. United States. doi:10.2172/1332539.
Mill, Andrew, Barbose, Galen, Seel, Joachim, Dong, Changgui, Mai, Trieu, Sigrin, Ben, and Zuboy, Jarrett. 2016. "Planning for a Distributed Disruption: Innovative Practices for Incorporating Distributed Solar into Utility Planning". United States. doi:10.2172/1332539. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1332539.
@article{osti_1332539,
title = {Planning for a Distributed Disruption: Innovative Practices for Incorporating Distributed Solar into Utility Planning},
author = {Mill, Andrew and Barbose, Galen and Seel, Joachim and Dong, Changgui and Mai, Trieu and Sigrin, Ben and Zuboy, Jarrett},
abstractNote = {The rapid growth of distributed solar photovoltaics (DPV) has critical implications for U.S. utility planning processes. This report informs utility planning through a comparative analysis of roughly 30 recent utility integrated resource plans or other generation planning studies, transmission planning studies, and distribution system plans. It reveals a spectrum of approaches to incorporating DPV across nine key planning areas, and it identifies areas where even the best current practices might be enhanced. 1) Forecasting DPV deployment: Because it explicitly captures several predictive factors, customer-adoption modeling is the most comprehensive forecasting approach. It could be combined with other forecasting methods to generate a range of potential futures. 2) Ensuring robustness of decisions to uncertain DPV quantities: using a capacity-expansion model to develop least-cost plans for various scenarios accounts for changes in net load and the generation portfolio; an innovative variation of this approach combines multiple per-scenario plans with trigger events, which indicate when conditions have changed sufficiently from the expected to trigger modifications in resource-acquisition strategy. 3) Characterizing DPV as a resource option: Today’s most comprehensive plans account for all of DPV’s monetary costs and benefits. An enhanced approach would address non-monetary and societal impacts as well. 4) Incorporating the non-dispatchability of DPV into planning: Rather than having a distinct innovative practice, innovation in this area is represented by evolving methods for capturing this important aspect of DPV. 5) Accounting for DPV’s location-specific factors: The innovative propensity-to-adopt method employs several factors to predict future DPV locations. Another emerging utility innovation is locating DPV strategically to enhance its benefits. 6) Estimating DPV’s impact on transmission and distribution investments: Innovative practices are being implemented to evaluate system needs, hosting capacities, and system investments needed to accommodate DPV deployment. 7) Estimating avoided losses associated with DPV: A time-differentiated marginal loss rate provides the most comprehensive estimate of avoided losses due to DPV, but no studies appear to use it. 8) Considering changes in DPV’s value with higher solar penetration: Innovative methods for addressing the value changes at high solar penetrations are lacking among the studies we evaluate. 9) Integrating DPV in planning across generation, transmission, and distribution: A few states and regions have started to develop more comprehensive processes that link planning forums, but there are still many issues to address.},
doi = {10.2172/1332539},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = 2016,
month = 8
}

Technical Report:

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  • The rapid growth of distributed solar photovoltaics (DPV) has critical implications for U.S. utility planning processes. This report informs utility planning through a comparative analysis of roughly 30 recent utility integrated resource plans or other generation planning studies, transmission planning studies, and distribution system plans. It reveals a spectrum of approaches to incorporating DPV across nine key planning areas, and it identifies areas where even the best current practices might be enhanced. (1) Forecasting DPV deployment: Because it explicitly captures several predictive factors, customer-adoption modeling is the most comprehensive forecasting approach. It could be combined with other forecasting methods tomore » generate a range of potential futures. (2) Ensuring robustness of decisions to uncertain DPV quantities: using a capacity-expansion model to develop least-cost plans for various scenarios accounts for changes in net load and the generation portfolio; an innovative variation of this approach combines multiple per-scenario plans with trigger events, which indicate when conditions have changed sufficiently from the expected to trigger modifications in resource-acquisition strategy. (3) Characterizing DPV as a resource option: Today's most comprehensive plans account for all of DPV's monetary costs and benefits. An enhanced approach would address non-monetary and societal impacts as well. (4) Incorporating the non-dispatchability of DPV into planning: Rather than having a distinct innovative practice, innovation in this area is represented by evolving methods for capturing this important aspect of DPV. (5) Accounting for DPV's location-specific factors: The innovative propensity-to-adopt method employs several factors to predict future DPV locations. Another emerging utility innovation is locating DPV strategically to enhance its benefits. (6) Estimating DPV's impact on transmission and distribution investments: Innovative practices are being implemented to evaluate system needs, hosting capacities, and system investments needed to accommodate DPV deployment. (7) Estimating avoided losses associated with DPV: A time-differentiated marginal loss rate provides the most comprehensive estimate of avoided losses due to DPV, but no studies appear to use it. (8) Considering changes in DPV's value with higher solar penetration: Innovative methods for addressing the value changes at high solar penetrations are lacking among the studies we evaluate. (9) Integrating DPV in planning across generation, transmission, and distribution: A few states and regions have started to develop more comprehensive processes that link planning forums, but there are still many issues to address.« less
  • The report contains a compilation of successful and innovative multimodal planning practices currently employed in a variety of settings, for both freight and passenger transportation. The report should be of interest to practitioners in state departments of transportation, metropolitan planning organizations, transit agencies, and other transportation planning and decisionmaking organizations. It should also serve as an educational resource on available tools that support effective transportation planning and decisionmaking.
  • Based on lessons from recent program experience, this report explores best practices for designing and implementing incentives for small and mid-sized residential and commercial distributed solar energy projects. The findings of this paper are relevant to both new incentive programs as well as those undergoing modifications. The report covers factors to consider in setting and modifying incentive levels over time, differentiating incentives to encourage various market segments, administrative issues such as providing equitable access to incentives and customer protection. It also explores how incentive programs can be designed to respond to changing market conditions while attempting to provide a longer-termmore » and stable environment for the solar industry. The findings are based on interviews with program administrators, regulators, and industry representatives as well as data from numerous incentive programs nationally, particularly the largest and longest-running programs. These best practices consider the perspectives of various stakeholders and the broad objectives of reducing solar costs, encouraging long-term market viability, minimizing ratepayer costs, and protecting consumers.« less
  • This paper seeks to provide a flexible utility roadmap for identifying the steps that need to be taken to place the utility in the best position for addressing solar in the future. Solar growth and the emergence of new technologies will change the electric utility of tomorrow. Although not every utility, region, or market will change in the same way or magnitude, developing a path forward will be needed to reach the Electric System of the Future in the coming decades. In this report, a series of potential future states are identified that could result in drastically different energy mixesmore » and profiles: 1) Business as Usual, 2) Low Carbon, Centralized Generation, 3) Rapid Distributed Energy Resource Growth, 4) Interactivity of Both the Grid and Demand, and 5) Grid or Load Defection. Complicating this process are a series of emerging disruptions; decisions or events that will cause the electric sector to change. Understanding and preparing for these items is critical for the transformation to any of the future states to be successful. Predicting which future state will predominate 15 years from now is not possible; however, utilities still will need to look ahead and try to anticipate how factors will impact their planning, operations, and business models. In order to dig into the potential transformations facing the utility industry, the authors conducted a series of utility interviews, held a working session at a major industry solar conference, and conducted a quantitative survey. To focus conversations, the authors leveraged the Rapid Distributed Energy Resource (DER) Growth future to draw out how utilities would have to adapt from current processes and procedures in order to manage and thrive in that new environment. Distributed solar was investigated specifically, and could serve as a proxy resource for all distributed generation (DG). It can also provide the foundation for all DERs.« less
  • Solar power plants only utilized to drive irrigation pumps may be unused for 2 to 7 months and under-utilized during other periods of the year. The energy use schedules presented show increased utilization of on-farm solar power plants is possible. Some of the increase could be obtained by providing electricity for other applications and altering pumping schedules; additional utilization could be obtained through use of waste thermal energy. Pumping schedules could be altered substantially if irrigation or cropping practices were modified or water were stored. The latter may not be economically feasible, the former are limited by climate, soils andmore » terrain, farm management and crop marketing. Residences are located on most farms, fall harvested grain commonly is dried for storage, and livestock and poultry operations require electricity and some heating. Crop processing operations, such as cotton ginning, and other agricultural businesses, for example greenhouses, also require thermal and electrical energy. Farms commonly are very specialized and would not include several enterprises. Establishment of more general purpose agricultural operations or joint ventures would be required to obtain a wider range of uses for excess energy. More complete utilization of solar power plant output can be obtained on the farm. However, major changes in farming practices or structure are generally necessary to substantially alter the present use pattern or increase the number of applications.« less