The increase in fossil-based energy costs and demand for cleaner energy sources has led to an exponential growth in renewable generation. The State of California is known for its ambitious initiatives to achieve 33 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2020, primarily this comes from wind and solar generation. The California Solar initiative providing rebates and incentives for residential and commercial customers to install solar photovoltaic (PV) generation at their premises is expected to result in even greater amounts of residential solar generation interconnecting with the electric grid in the near the future. Safely and efficiently managing the addition of all this solar energy requires being able to conduct appropriate studies and accurate assessments of how the integration of this type of generation and the technology advancements being developed will impact in the grid.
Southern California Edison (SCE) is planning on installing 125 MW of solar PV generation and an additional 375 MW is expected by private parties. Working alone and in collaborations with other entities, such as the National Renewable Electric Laboratory (NREL), the company has been testing solar PV inverters. The test data collected by SCE engineers can be used to develop and validate solar PV models, which can be used to determine how this particular technology impacts the grid.