As solar technology evolves and improves, so does the necessity offinding efficient and reliable ways of getting the energy to the grid.Here’s a look at what’s being done.
At the end of the day, the eco-bling installations adorning the occasional neighborhood rooftop do nothave near the impact as large utility solar arrays feeding into thegrid. Sure, size matters. But it also has to do with convenience and the nature of consumerism.
We are creatures of habit, after all, prone to staying the courseunless forced otherwise. And widespread emissions reduction is bestimplemented at the source, often relying on policy change.
Massive solar arrays are growing in number, and in certain areas,flourishing. But their energy is intermittent — not to mention theproblem of matching their peak production periods with peak usage bycommercial utilities (an oft-impossible task).
Reliability, durability, and maintenance are also huge game players.The more "service calls" required for a system, the less value placed on its worth.
So the success of solar tech getting to the grid is contingent upon efficient and safe integration. System reliability,integration with existing systems and control infrastructure andinstallation economics pose key technical issues to be overcome.
Thankfully, steps are being made, as is progress.
What’s Being Done:
In 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) implemented the Solar Energy Grid Integration System (SEGIS) project — a means ofmatching solar tech leaders with commercial utilities to help bringprojects to fruition. Now in Phase II (The Design Phase), systems andmonitoring are beginning to be tested and employed.
This leads to the crucial "trial and error" aspect of smart gridintegration, when new solar tech is employed, problems come up.Sometimes big problems like the inherent conflict between a solar energy source and existing grid interconnect standards governing the distribution to the grid.
Since solar technology components’ have constant exposure to theelements, they require careful monitoring. New, time-dependentprediction tools and analytical methods to predict real-world inverterreliability with greater accuracy and granularity are being developed to help with this.
As always, such problems are not easily fixed, and often stem fromthe constant tension when moving from older methods to newer. In otherwords, we are often out own worst enemy, and success is often based onour willingness to embrace change.
Learn more about Solar on eBoom’s Solar EnergyLearning Page.