In many areas of the United States, grid-tied solar arrays and power distribution aren’t always perfect. I just got solar panels on my roof and I’m one of the only in my area. In addition, it’s commonplace for rural areas to suffer frequent brownouts and outages. Again, it’s due to the inadequate supply of power being fed into the grid. So it’s obvious that solar for homes and businesses strengthen the supply in those areas.
Yes. Yes yes. The answer is “yes” in that the excess power could be added to the grid’s total pool of energy. However “no” as it depends on how many establishments tied into the grid. To them, it could simply not give enough extra energy.
How Grid-tied Systems are Involved
Solar arrays that tied into the grid provide excess power to the community. If a home that has solar panels on the roof produces more than it can use and store. So the extra power goes back out to the power lines. Depending on the size of this array, it could be just a few extra watts to hundreds or even thousands. It all depends on how large the array is for that one establishment.
Brownouts – Brownouts can be caused either by manually reducing the power flow if an emergency emergencies. Also or unintentional drops due to an inadequate power supply or other compromised circuitry. For many areas, these brownouts occur regularly and could cause a great deal of harm to electronic components such as computers. This is the result of not enough power being supplied to your home signified by the dimming of your lights or other components that plugged in.
Feeding Power – For the grid-tied solar array, the excess energy fed back into the system. For an area that experiences frequent brownouts, the excess energy could be used to compensate for inadequate supplies. Instead of the power being delivered from a single source, there are as many producers for power on the grid as there are solar arrays plus the power plant itself. In a smaller area, the grid-tied solar array could help offset some of the dip in power provided. The more arrays there are, the less likely the brownouts could affect the area. Of course this is also with the amount of excess power that goes into the system.
Dangers of Grid-tied Arrays – While solar panels that are providing power to the grid could ease the brownouts experienced by an area, they can also cause a problem when it comes to repairs. When a power line requires maintenance, the power company can simply shut off a place. However, this doesn’t affect the solar array that connected into the grid. These lines could still be live as the array is still feeding power. Of course many households and businesses have methods of shutting down this connection when an emergency repair. In fact, the Remote Solar Isolator device will restrict the flow of electricity from solar panels should it not detect power on the grid.
In conclusion, we know Solar is the way. Especially when it comes to brownouts being caused by the inadequate flow of power from the grid. Finally, private solar panels could theoretically compensate for the disruption. It all depends on how much power you need. As well, and more important how much generation comes by the array. This isn’t saying that your array will stop the town from experiencing this problem. However it could aid regulating electricity.
Photo Source: The California Valley Solar Ranch generates up to of 250 MW — enough energy to power equal to every home in San Luis Obispo County. | Photo courtesy of SunPower from United States Department of Energy (USDOE)