Over the next four years, distributed solar penetration will increase by more than 300 percent in the United States, straining local distribution infrastructure in more than a quarter of the country. 

According to GTM Research's latest report, Advanced Grid Power Electronics for High-Penetration PV Integration 2014, secondary distribution grid control equipment, including power-electronics-based solutions, represents the most cost-effective technical solution to these problems. The market for secondary power electronics equipment for PV integration will have a 134 percent compound annual growth rate over the next three years, reaching $320 million in 2017.

"Utility-owned power electronics offer a variety of services for utilities at a fraction of the cost of competing storage solutions,” said Ben Kellison, Senior Grid Analyst at GTM Research. “These enable utilities to fine-tune unstable portions of the distribution grid, while allowing the bulk of the grid to operate using cheaper, more traditional technology."

In addition to integrating higher penetrations of solar, secondary power electronics provide grid operators with hardware that can increase distribution grid efficiency through conservation voltage reduction, enhance control over power quality, and improve situational awareness.

FIGURE: Comparison of Distribution Technologies Benefits (click to enlarge)

Source: Advanced Grid Power Electronics for High-Penetration PV Integration 2014

"These services enable utilities to leverage multiple value streams to increase their return on investment and improve customer service,” said Kellison. They range from direct revenue applications from wholesale markets to "soft," qualitative benefits such as enhanced power quality and increased renewable carrying capacity. “Wide deployment of these technologies will usher in a new dynamic paradigm in the distribution of power,” added Kellison.

Software systems being developed by leading U.S. utilities are laying the groundwork for more cost-effective deployment of this equipment. The operation of these systems will allow the market for secondary distribution grid control equipment to grow tenfold over the next four years alone.

To learn more about the Advanced Grid Power Electronics for High-Penetration PV Integration 2014 report, please visit http://www.greentechmedia.com/research/report/advanced-grid-power-electronics-for-high-penetration-pv-integration-2014.

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Varentec's president and the CEOs of GridBridge and Gridco Systems will participate in Ben Kellison's advanced grid power electronics panel at Grid Edge Live. See the conference's full agenda here.

Tags: grid edge, gtm research, power electronics, pv