Peer-Reviewed Journal Details
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Juan J. Cuenca and Hannah E. Daly and Barry P. Hayes
2023
January
Applied Energy
Sharing the grid: The key to equitable access for small-scale energy generation
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Small-scale distributed generation (DG) installations, like rooftop solar photovoltaics, are adopted earlier in high-income households than in other portions of society. This can limit grid electricity export capacity for latecomers, causing inequitable access and slower renewables deployment. In search for an equitable solution, this work challenges current DG permissioning practices: instead of applying rules of thumb to assign DG, we propose a policy that represents grid limitations at all hierarchies of the grid (i.e., customer, distribution, sub-transmission and transmission levels). A method to predict interest in household DG installations over time based on demographic and socioeconomic variables is presented and validated. This is leveraged to test a novel policy for small-scale DG deployment: sharing the grid; and to explore its potential to improve equity in grid access and speed of renewables deployment. Proposed, current and alternative policy paths on small-scale DG adoption are tested to identify benefits and trade-offs. Using Ireland’s national utility as case study, we perform a long-term simulation of solar photovoltaic adoption. Sharing electricity export capacities increases participation from 77.9 % to 100 %, unlocking access to the grid for 364,064 electricity customers compared to current policy—without the need for infrastructure upgrades. Furthermore, the proposed policy achieves the same overall level of installed capacity as current policy 44 % faster, accelerating small-scale DG rollout, benefiting households and decarbonisation targets. Ultimately, to determine equitability, we connect these results to demographic variables and find that grid limits are not biased towards any demographic group studied, suggesting that policy can be tailored to prevent DG access inequity.
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S030626192301005X
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apenergy.2023.121641
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