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Monday, August 25, 2008
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SEPA’s Top 10 Utility Solar Integration Rankings

Solar Electric Power Image - Courtesy of SolarDock© In the last year, U.S. electric utilities’ engagement with grid-connection solar electricity increased significantly, with major photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar thermal (CST) announcements by utilities, their customers, and third-party solar developers, according to a new report ranking utility solar integration published by the Solar Electric Power Association.

Several utilities have announced new entrepreneurial ideas that provide fresh solutions to regulatory, customer, and internal issues, the report notes, adding that, because of these announcements, the association anticipates that utilities will quickly become the largest and one of the most important customers for the solar industries.

Survey Results
SEPA broke its rankings into three different categories:

  • Total Solar Electric Capacity
  • Capacity on the Customer Side of the Meter
  • Capacity on the Utility Side of the Meter.

Total Solar Capacity
Solar power generated on both the customer side and the utility side of the meter equaled 805 MW of energy in 2007, of which 386 MW were generated from PVs and 419 MW from CSTs. Southern California Edison had by far the greatest capacity, followed by Pacific Gas & Electric and Nevada Power/Sierra Pacific.

Capacity on the Customer Side of the Meter
The customer side of the meter refers to the solar electric systems that are configured to first offset onsite consumption at retail rates, with any remaining excess exported to the distribution grid. All of these are PV installations. The rankings in this group are Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric.

Capacity on the Utility Side of the Meter
The solar capacity represented in this category is heavily weighted toward concentrating solar thermal plants, but several new large photovoltaic plants may be indicative of an emerging trend. Southern California Edison’s SEGS CST plants top the ranking. Nevada Power/Sierra Pacific Power is similarly led by the Nevada Solar One CST plant purchases, followed by Xcel Energy (CO), Arizona Public Service (AZ), and Tucson Electric Power (AZ).

Prognostications
Predicting the future in the rapidly changing solar industry, SEPA says, is “especially difficult,” although “increasing utility engagement in solar electricity is an obvious theme.” An unprecedented number of utilities have made major announcements of large solar purchases or new and expanded customer programs in 2007 and 2008.

Customer Side
On the customer side of the meter, PV systems will continue to be the dominant solar-electric technology, the report predicts. Differences in utility integration of solar are driven by a variety of actors, including state policies, available incentives, retail electricity prices, solar resource, market prices, and the state of the economy. Ultimately, all customer-related solar markets are state and utility specific.

On the national level, annual U.S. growth is expected to increase from 150 MW in 2007 to more than 600 MW in 2012, the report says. On the state level, several have solar, distributed generation, or customer-siting requirements within their renewable portfolio standards or other polcies. Based in part on renewable portfolio projections from Lawrence Berkley Laboratories and existing market activities, these states (AZ, CA, CO, DE, HI, MD, NE, NH, NJ, NC, PA, and DC) will see significant growth in the photovoltaic markets.

Utility Side
On the utility side of the meter, keeping track of myriad announcements of concentrating solar thermal plants is both confusing and indicative of the industry’s potential, the report notes. CST projects are being driven by both formal utility requests for proposals and by solar developers, who negotiate power purchases directly with utilities. SEPA has identified more than 4,600 MW of CST being planned over the next eight years, and even completion of 50 percent of the proposed projects leaves a “healthy dose” of CST electricity for utility purchase. “The industry could experience five- to ten-fold growth rates,” SEPA says, “but the range is wide and uncertainty is high.”

The emergence of PV on the utility side of the meter is a new development, with several large announcements by utilities across the country, the report continues. However, it notes, “the majority of the almost 600 MW identified will not be large solar farms.” Instead, development may be in customer-sited projects on the utility side of the meter, either through direct utility or third-party ownership. “This is quite different from the net metered or feed-in tariff project in the U.S. and Europe,” it says, “in that the utilities are driving these market changes.”

A copy of the complete report is available at http://www.solarelectricpower.org.

We thank you for your cooperation in improving the quality of our materials.
Please contact Bill Green
, at Communications@nema.org if you have any further questions related to eiXtra.



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On the Hill/Around the Nation

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International News

08.25.08
Antimonopoly Law Takes Effect in China
For the past 14 years, Chinese authorities have been formulating a law to govern monopolistic practices in the Middle Kingdom. The first such law recently took effect

Aimed at promoting fair competition and reducing monopolies, the law introduced some U.S. consumer-rights concepts. Enforcement will take place through a recently established Antimonopoly Committee that reports to the State Council of China.

Three government agencies are responsible for implementation and support of the new Committee: Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC). It is acknowledged that presently there may be some duplication and overlap, as well as possible conflicts across the three agencies. It will be necessary to review the implementation rules as they are developed to be able to assess the extent to which the present structure will be functional. As a member of Amcham China, NEMA’s Beijing office is getting regular briefings on the emerging developments and is well positioned to help address members’ concerns and questions.

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NEMA Brasil Submits Comments to Draft Regulation on Safety Devices
NEMA Brasil sent comments on draft Decree #230, Voluntary Certification of Residual Current Devices (RCD) to Inmetro, the Brazilian government regulator of electric products. These comments are the result of discussions with NEMA members in Brazil. NEMA asked Inmetro to make it clear that the decree is related only to products for household and similar uses. NEMA also asked for electronic devices to be included in the decree since they are included in the two existing IEC standards on voltage dependent RCDs (electronic).

The draft decree also included a proposal to implement a very detailed and expensive system to deal with customer complaints. NEMA Brasil asked to replace the system with requirements on this subject included in (NBR) ISO 9001 standard.

The practical impact of these efforts is to ensure that, if the regulation ever becomes mandatory, NEMA member products will have access to the marketplace. The ongoing controversy in Brazil is between products meeting the needs of the North American market and those meeting those of the European Union. Because NEMA Brasil is incorporated as a trade association in Brazil, NEMA has standing in the country to make such arguments as these on behalf of member companies before all regulatory authorities.

For more information, contact, Gene Eckhart.

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NEMAVoice

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Personnel

Awards

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[ NEMA News Archives ]

NEMA/BIS

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    08/19/08
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