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Title: Sun Screens: Maintaining Grid Reliability and Distributed Energy Project Viability through Improved Technical Screens


This discussion paper focuses on the interconnection process for smaller PV systems(less than or equal to 10 kW), as this phase can have a major impact on project success.

Publication Date:
Research Org.:
National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Strategic Programs Office
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
NREL/BR-7A40-67633; DOE/GO-102017-4946
DOE Contract Number:
Country of Publication:
United States
29 ENERGY PLANNING, POLICY, AND ECONOMY; 32 ENERGY CONSERVATION, CONSUMPTION, AND UTILIZATION; Energy Transition Initiative; ETI; strategic programs; puerto rico; solar; pv; hydropower; photovoltaics

Citation Formats

. Sun Screens: Maintaining Grid Reliability and Distributed Energy Project Viability through Improved Technical Screens. United States: N. p., 2017. Web.
. Sun Screens: Maintaining Grid Reliability and Distributed Energy Project Viability through Improved Technical Screens. United States.
. Tue . "Sun Screens: Maintaining Grid Reliability and Distributed Energy Project Viability through Improved Technical Screens". United States. doi:.
title = {Sun Screens: Maintaining Grid Reliability and Distributed Energy Project Viability through Improved Technical Screens},
author = {},
abstractNote = {This discussion paper focuses on the interconnection process for smaller PV systems(less than or equal to 10 kW), as this phase can have a major impact on project success.},
doi = {},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Tue Apr 04 00:00:00 EDT 2017},
month = {Tue Apr 04 00:00:00 EDT 2017}
  • The Maui Smart Grid Project (MSGP) is under the leadership of the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) of the University of Hawaii at Manoa. The project team includes Maui Electric Company, Ltd. (MECO), Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc. (HECO), Sentech (a division of SRA International, Inc.), Silver Spring Networks (SSN), Alstom Grid, Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB), University of Hawaii-Maui College (UHMC), and the County of Maui. MSGP was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) under Cooperative Agreement Number DE-FC26-08NT02871, with approximately 50% co-funding supplied by MECO. The project was designed to develop and demonstrate an integrated monitoring, communications,more » database, applications, and decision support solution that aggregates renewable energy (RE), other distributed generation (DG), energy storage, and demand response technologies in a distribution system to achieve both distribution and transmission-level benefits. The application of these new technologies and procedures will increase MECO’s visibility into system conditions, with the expected benefits of enabling more renewable energy resources to be integrated into the grid, improving service quality, increasing overall reliability of the power system, and ultimately reducing costs to both MECO and its customers.« less
  • As the Electric Power Industry is actively preparing for a restructured future where retail wheeling is practiced ideally and efficiently in a competitive market-based environment, concerns may arise legitimately on how system reliability and integrity can be ensured in an environment where markets have an enhanced role. As these concerns may be justified, at least for a transition period, this paper presents a proposal which outlines how the generally accepted requisite capacity, energy, and ancillary services standards may be satisfied through market reliance and minimal coordination by a Reliability Monitoring and Ancillary Services Managing Entity or Independent System Operator. Amore » Strawman detailing one -- and by no means the only -- future scenario inspired by the recent NEPOOL restructuring discussions in New England is presented to demonstrate that market-based competition and flexibility are compatible with a reliable Power System.« less
  • The future looks bright for solar and renewable energies in the United States. Recent studies claim that by 2050, solar power could supply a third of all electricity demand in the country’s western states. Technology advances, soft policy changes, and increased energy consciousness will all have to happen to achieve this goal. But the larger question is, what would it take to do more throughout the United States? The studies tie future solar and renewable growth in the United States to programs that aim to lower the soft costs of solar adoption, streamline utility interconnections, and increase technology advances throughmore » research and development. At the state and local levels, the most important steps are; Net metering: Net metering policies lets customers offset their electric bills with onsite solar and receive reliable and fair compensation for the excess electricity they provide to the grid. Not surprisingly, what utilities consider fair is not necessarily a rate that’s favorable to solar customers; Renewable portfolio standards (RPS): RPS policies require utilities to provide a certain amount of their power from renewable sources; some set specific targets for solar and other renewables. California’s aggressive RPS of 33% renewable energy by 2020 is not bankrupting the state, or its residents; Strong statewide interconnection policies: Solar projects can experience significant delays and hassles just to get connected to the grid. Streamlined feasibility and impact analysis are needed. Good interconnection policies are crucial to the success of solar or renewable energy development; Financing options: Financing is often the biggest obstacle to solar adoption. Those obstacles can be surmounted with policies that support creative financing options like third-party ownership (TPO) and property assessed clean energy (PACE). Attesting to the significance of TPO is the fact that in Arizona, it accounted for 86% of all residential photovoltaic (PV) installations in Q1 2013. Policies beyond those at the state level are also important for solar. The federal government must play a role including continuation of the federal Investment tax credit, responsible development of solar resources on public lands, and support for research and development (R&D) to reduce the cost of solar and help incorporate large amounts of solar into the grid. The local level can’t be ignored. Local governments should support: solar rights laws, feed-in tariffs (FITs), and solar-friendly zoning rules. A great example of how effective local policies can be is a city like Gainesville, Florida , whose FIT policy has put it on the map as a solar leader. This is particularly noteworthy because the Sunshine State does not appear anywhere on the list of top solar states, despite its abundant solar resource. Lancaster, California, began by streamlining the solar permitting process and now requires solar on every new home. Cities like these point to the power of local policies, and the ability of local governments to get things done. A conspicuously absent policy is Community Choice energy, also called community choice aggregation (CCA). This model allows local governments to pool residential, business, and municipal electricity loads and to purchase or generate on their behalf. It provides rate stability and savings and allows more consumer choice and local control. The model need not be focused on clean energy, but it has been in California, where Marin Clean Energy, the first CCA in California, was enabled by a state law -- highlighting the interplay of state and local action. Basic net metering8 has been getting a lot of attention. Utilities are attacking it in a number of states, claiming it’s unfair to ratepayers who don’t go solar. On the other hand, proponents of net metering say utilities’ fighting stance is driven by worries about their bottom line, not concern for their customers. Studies in California, Vermont , New York and Texas have found that the benefits of net metering (like savings on investments in infrastructure and on meeting state renewables requirements) outweigh the costs (like the lowered revenue to cover utility infrastructure costs). Many are eagerly awaiting a California Public Utilities Commission study due later this year, in the hopes that it will provide a relatively unbiased look at the issue. Meanwhile, some states continue to pursue virtual net metering policies. Under Colorado’s Solar Gardens Act, for example, utility customers can subscribe to power generated somewhere other than their own homes. The program allowed by that bill sold out in 30 minutes, evidence of the pent-up demand for this kind of arrangement. And California solar advocates are hoping for passage of a “shared renewables” bill in that state, which would provide for similar solar are significant in bringing solar power to the estimated 75% (likely a conservative number) of can’t put solar on our own roof. As great a resource as the sun is, when it comes to actually implementing solar or other renewables, technology advances, policy changes, bureaucratic practices, and increased energy consciousness will all have to happen to achieve a 30% by 2050 national goal. This project incorporated research activities focused on addressing each of these challenges. First, the project researchers evaluated several leading edge solar technologies by actually implementing these technologies at Playas, New Mexico, a remote town built in the 1970s by Phelps Dodge Mining Company for the company’s employees. This town was purchased by the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in 2005 and converted to a training and research center. Playas is an all-electric town served by a substation about seven miles away. The town is the last user on a 240 kV utility transmission line owned by the Columbus Electric Cooperative (CEC) making it easy to isolate for experiment purposes. The New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (NMT) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) perform various training and research activities at this site. Given its unique nature, Playas was chosen to test Micro-Grids and other examples of renewable distributed energy resources (DER). Several proposed distributed energy sources (DERs) were not implemented as planned including the Micro-Grid. However, Micro-Grid design and computer modeling were completed and these results are included in this report. As part of this research, four PV (solar) generating systems were installed with remote Internet based communication and control capabilities. These systems have been integrated into and can interact with the local grid So that (for example) excess power produced by the solar arrays can be exported to the utility grid. Energy efficient LED lighting was installed in several buildings to further reduce consumption of utility-supplied power. By combining reduced lighting costs; lowering HVAC loads; and installing smart PV generating equipment with energy storage (battery banks) these systems can greatly reduce electrical usage drawn from an older rural electrical cooperative (Co-Op) while providing clean dependable power. Several additional tasks under this project involved conducting research to develop methods of producing electricity from organic materials (i.e. biofuels, biomass. etc.), the most successful being the biodiesel reactor. Improvements with Proton Exchange Membranes (PEM) for fuels cells were demonstrated and advances in Dye Sensitized Solar Cells (DSSC) were also shown. The specific goals of the project include; Instrumentation of the power distribution system with distributed energy resources, demand-side control and intelligent homes within the town of Playas, NM; Creation of models (power flow and dynamic) of the Playas power distribution system; Validation of the models through comparison of predicted behavior to data collected from instrumentation; and Utilization of the models and test grid to characterize the impact of new devices and approaches (e.g., distributed generation and load management) on the local distribution system as well as the grid at large. In addition to the above stated objectives, the research also focused on three critical challenges facing renewable distributed energy platforms: 1) hydrogen from biomass, 2) improved catalyst support systems for electrolysis membranes and fuel cell systems, and 3) improved manufacturing methodologies of low cost photovoltaics. The following sections describe activities performed during this project. The various tasks were focused on establishing Playas as a “…theoretical and experimental test bed…” through which components of a modern/smart grid could be characterized. On a broader scale, project efforts were aimed at development of tools and gathering of experience/expertise that would accelerate progress toward implementation of a modern grid.« less
  • An examination was made of mobile homes and mobile home sites, their macro- and microclimates, the patterns of owner usage, and the effect of all these factors on energy consumption. Energy conservation potential has been identified, with emphasis placed on low technology techniques and solutions easily implemented by the mobile home occupant. Detailed discussions on construction, internal loads, mechanical systems, and implementation of energy-conserving opportunities are presented. (MCW)