Report: High Value for Solar Power During Peak Times

Date: 15 Feb 2005 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

A recent report done for the Vote Solar Initiative shows that on-peak solar electricity has a value of between 23 and 35 cent per kilowatt-hour. The January 2005 report was authored by Ed Smeloff, formerly on the board of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) and a long-time solar energy advocate.

The study found that the values of on-peak solar energy varied, in large part, on the location of system on the grid. This analysis provides a strong case for the large-scale expansion of solar power in California that would be consistent with Governor Schwarzenegger’s Million Solar Roofs Initiative.

Included in the valuation of on-peak solar in California are the following five factors:

1. Solar power’s ability to reduce peak demand for electricity
2. Solar power’s ability to lessen the consumption of natural gas in power plants
3. Solar power’s ability to avoid environmental damage from power plant emissions
4. Solar power’s ability to help the electric grid operate more efficiently by reducing line losses
5. Solar power’s ability to save investment capital by delaying costly upgrades to the electrical transmission and distribution system.

Other Non-Quantified Benefits of Solar Power

  • Solar electricity provides local voltage support that can reduce the need for other utility equipment.
  • Large-scale, dispersed solar deployment can reduce the need for operating and spinning reserves needed to assure electric reliability.
  • Large-scale solar deployment can reduce the cost of natural gas for other uses like heating, industrial processes and transportation through a price elasticity effect.
  • The ease of deploying solar projects and their short lead times reduces the risk of forecasting mistakes that can result in costly power generation overcapacity.
  • The broad public support for solar power and short development time for projects reduces financial risk by beginning capital returns more quickly and minimizing the likelihood of project failure.
  • The low operational and maintenance costs for solar energy and the opportunity to leverage customer investment reduce the risk of technological obsolescence that could add to an electric utility’s stranded costs.


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    John Farrell

    John Farrell directs the Energy Democracy initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and he develops tools that allow communities to take charge of their energy future, and pursue the maximum economic benefits of the transition to 100% renewable power.