PV technology combined with storage offers a cost-effective alternative to capacity additions.By John Byrne,
Ralph Nigro, and
Steven E. Letendre
Until recently, both regulators and electric utilities have considered photovoltaic (PV) technology (i.e., solar cells) an unattractive
energy-supply option because of its relatively high cost. Now, however, a number of utilities have shown interest in using PV for peak-shaving. Analyses of the Mid-Atlantic region (which has an average insolation rate of only 1,550 Kwh/m2/yr) indicate that PV deployed in a peak-shaving role is cost-effective if modest targets for improved efficiency and cost reductions in PV modules are met, or if nontraditional environmental and distribution benefits are included.
A PV system's peak load-reduction capacity is ordinarily equal to the power it generates at any moment. However, integrating PV technology with storage makes it possible to displace a load greater than an array's output at peak demand periods. This application is currently being tested at Delmarva Power & Light Co. (DP&L), and will be tested at four additional sites in 1995 as part of the PV:BONUS program under a contract with the U.S. Department of Energy.