Distributed Energy Generation - Now's the Time! Part 1 of 5
By Brian Robertson, Amonix CEO
Next week, I will be speaking at POWER-GEN International conference in Orlando, Florida on the topic of Size Matters: Centralized versus Distributed Generation (DG) of Electricity and the Role of Utility Scale PV. This is an important topic because despite the well-documented efficiency advantages of distributed generation, skepticism among U.S. utility remains high. Why the skepticism? Advocates contend that utilities resist DG for a combination of cultural, social, proprietary and political issues while utilities argue that DG presents insurmountable technical and economic obstacles.
A hybrid model, commonly referred to as Wholesale Distributed Generation (WDG), is emerging that combines DG with direct utility interconnection driven primarily by two factors – Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and the lower financing and permitting requirements of the smaller WDG plants. Utilities are catching on to WDG as an alternative to larger scale power plants, creating the potential for a substantial WDG market as indicated in a recent article published by Greentech Media.
Another factor in the rise of WDG is solar PV, which is one of the more attractive of the WDG options for meeting RPS mandates because solar overcomes the technical and economic barriers that are often cited as objections to using this WDG. Solar is the most proven of all renewable energy sources and, based on California's Market Price Referent (MPR), utility-scale solar PV systems have achieved grid parity in that market. California, and by extension all seven U.S. states with sunny and dry climates – California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado and Texas – are currently at or near grid parity. For all practical purposes, today the industry is operating in a post-grid parity environment for utility-scale solar PV, and cost is no longer a legitimate excuse for not implementing WDG.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be exploring this topic in greater detail, including such things as how the U.S. shifted from distributed to centralized generation in the first place; the advantages of distributed generation; the role of renewable energy and especially solar; and barriers to utility-scale solar in a distributed model.
Bottom line, if ever there was an optimal time for utilities to deploy solar PV in a WDG model, that time is now.
Stay tuned for more on this topic… and a report from the POWER-GEN International conference next week.
- CHI SIAMO
- Tecnologia CPV
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