The increasing adoption of solar power systems envisages utility-scale PV generation increasing exponentially over the next two decades. For one, it signals that people all over the world are ready to roll with renewable energy. The fact is that we are seeing the installation of more and more solar, wind, and other renewables as the world veers away from fossil fuels. On the flipside, this can also have some side effects that need to be dealt with. One such byproduct of the abundance in solar power generation is something called the ‘duck curve’.

solar production

Computing the Duck Curve for Solar vs Grid energy production

What exactly is the duck curve?

Solar installations have grown substantially over the past few years, resulting in a great increase in energy output. The dramatic drop in the cost of solar photovoltaic (PV) has made them more affordable. Consequently, homeowners and other entities have been able to save money while meeting sustainability goals after switching to solar.

Utility companies aim to supply less power overnight when consumers are asleep. They then ramp it up when consumers awake in the morning, dropping supply again during the quieter middle of the day. As evening approaches, they increase supply again. But the introduction of solar power has brought about problems in these demand curve models.

Solar power delivers peak production around the middle of the day when energy production is higher than it needs to be. Then, as evening approaches, solar output drops with grid demand simultaneously increasing.

This discrepancy results in an up and down net demand and supply curve that takes the shape of a duck, hence the name duck curve.

The duck curve challenge to utility companies.

With solar production increasing each year, this duck curve becomes even more of a challenge

Firstly, grid energy sources are only truly economical when they are running all the time. Turning them off in the middle of the day, when solar is supplying all the necessary power, makes them economically less viable.

Secondly, solar energy production stops as the sun sets, just as demand for energy typically peaks. Consequently, utility companies have to ramp up production, overstressing a grid that is not yet set up for these peaks.

The result is a challenge for the utility companies, contributing to higher utility costs for those dependent on the grid service. In addition, power rises during the night hours when solar is offline, negatively impacting both grid and solar users.

How can the industry offset the duck curve?

The industry is working hard towards addressing this duck curve. One approach is to improve battery storage to make energy more accessible and efficient at all times of the day and night. This is probably the most promising solution and has already proven effective in residential and community-level applications. In addition, prioritizing this approach is rapidly developing, making solar so much more viable. Higher demand for solar panel systems is also driving down the cost of batteries.

Additional methods of countering the effects of the duck curve are to channel surplus solar power generation to power other facilities like hydro or geothermal plants.

The potential benefits to the solar industry

Offsetting the duck curve ensures solar capitalizes on its momentum without causing undue stress on the grid. This is beneficial not only to industry players but also to consumers avoiding unnecessary cost fluctuations. In addition, other forms of renewable energy see similar benefits.

Consequently, it also preserves the efficiency of the commercial grid operators, with utility prices stabilizing across the board. The result is that consumers and the energy industry as a whole benefit in the long run.

Let us answer all your solar energy question.

Contact us at Renewable Energy Corporation for an answer to all your questions. We will show you how installing a suitable solar power system to your home will dramatically reduce your energy bills.

The US Utility Sector is experiencing massive power demands due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Disruptions could occur at any time.

With a properly installed Solar power supply:

  • Your electricity feed will remain secure
  • If the power goes down, you won’t be left in the dark
  • All essential appliances will continue to work
  • Wi-fi and internet connections will remain operational
  • You will be unaffected by the inevitable increases in utility costs
  • Remain safe and secure while continuing to work from home

Play a role in benefiting the environment by switching to economical, clean and renewable Solar power for your home or business. Get a no-obligation free estimate today!
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