SEPA: Utilities should own solar inverters

Dive Brief:

  • A new report from the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) calls on utilities to "recognize inverters as a distribution system asset" and take ownership of them. 
  • Currently, inverters are being installed by solar companies on homes with rooftop solar in order to feed power into the customer's home and back onto the grid. 
  • Utility ownership of these inverters would reduce solar installation costs by 10-15% and potentially mitigate reliability issues, said the report. 

Dive Insight:

Rising penetrations of distributed generation (DG) solar has made it imperative for utilities to ensure that DG solar installations add value to the grid. Ownership over the inverter could make utilities more amenable to the growth of rooftop solar.

"Strong operational arguments can be made for this shift; indeed, as penetration of distributed solar increases across the country, centralized operational visibility and control will become imperative in future protocols that ensure reliable operation of the grid," said the report.

But very few utilities appear to be pursuing this today and there is speculation about the efficacy of the scheme. "It sounds really nice. But there are a lot of complications that need to be worked out," said MJ Shiao, director of solar research at GTM Research. "We still don't understand how a lot of this will work."

Recommended Reading

GreenTech Media: Here’s a Way to Get Utilities to Embrace Solar and Batteries: Let Them Own the Inverter
Renewable Energy World: New SEPA Report: Unlocking Advanced Inverter Functionality