Increased solar penetration creates opportunities and challenges.
The traditional electric grid continues to work fine at current levels of solar, but as solar grows we need utilities to get smart.
The Smart Inverter Working Group is developing requirements for advanced inverter functionality. The first wave of requirements will kick in soon and will have minimal impact on inverter cost or power output while helping the grid manage irregularities. Another wave is under development and will need to involve payment for ancillary services that reduce power output, such as producing reactive power.
Utilities are also under a mandate to update their distribution system planning process to better incorporate distributed generation. This will involve analysis of where solar is most beneficial to the grid and encouraging its installation in these optimal locations. Costs to integrate solar will be balanced with the benefits of reduced utility infrastructure costs.
These developments include both opportunities to offer new products and services and challenges in maintaining a strong opportunity for all customers to go solar.