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Title: On the Path to SunShot. Emerging Issues and Challenges in Integrating High Levels of Solar into the Electrical Generation and Transmission System

This report examines how the bulk power system may need to evolve to accommodate the increased photovoltaic (PV) penetration resulting from achievement of the U.S. Department of Energy's SunShot cost targets. The variable and uncertain nature of PV-generated electricity presents grid-integration challenges. For example, the changing net load associated with high midday PV generation and low electricity demand can create 'overgeneration' that requires curtailment of PV output and reduces PV's value and cost-competitiveness. Accommodating the changes in net load resulting from increased variable generation requires enhancements to a power system's 'flexibility,' or ability to balance supply and demand over multiple time scales through options including changes in system operation, flexible generation, reserves from solar, demand response, energy storage, and enhanced transmission and regional coordination. For utility-scale PV with a baseline SunShot levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) of 6 cents/kWh, increasing the annual energy demand met by solar energy from 10% to 20% would increase the marginal LCOE of PV from 6 cents/kWh to almost 11 cents/kWh in a California grid system with limited flexibility. However, increasing system flexibility could minimize solar curtailment and keep PV cost-competitive at penetrations at least as high as 25%. In the longer term, energy storagemore » technologies--such as concentrating solar power with thermal energy storage--could facilitate the cost-effective integration of even higher PV penetration. Efficient deployment of the grid-flexibility options needed to maintain solar's value will require various innovations, from the development of communication, control, and energy storage technologies to the implementation of new market rules and operating procedures.« less
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  1. National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Solar Energy Technologies Office (EE-4S)
Country of Publication:
United States
14 SOLAR ENERGY; 29 ENERGY PLANNING, POLICY, AND ECONOMY SunShot; solar; PV; photovoltaic; CSP; concentrating solar power; penetration; CAISO; California; duck chart; renewable portfolio standards; RPS; curtail; curtailment; flexibility; flexible; grid; transmission; variable generation; net load; energy storage; demand response