Research press release


Nature Energy

Energy: Grid constraints could limit equitable adoption of solar energy in California

電力供給網の限界は、米国カリフォルニア州における分散型エネルギー資源の将来の消費を制約するだけでなく、太陽エネルギーの導入に関連する既存の人種的不平等を悪化させる可能性がある。このことを報告する論文が、Nature Energy に掲載される。


今回、Anna Brockwayたちは、新たな分散型エネルギー資源の組み込みの潜在的限界を分析するために、カリフォルニア州最大の2つの電力会社の供給地域の配電網の容量をマッピングした。次に、この結果を、対応する人口統計データと併せて分析した。Brockwayたちは、現行の条件下では、配電網には十分な容量がなく、こうした地域における太陽光発電システムを導入した住宅の全電力需要の半分未満しか供給できないことを明らかにしている。さらに、配電網の限界は、電力利用における人口統計上の格差を拡大し、黒人コミュニティーや貧困コミュニティーが住宅レベルで再生可能な太陽エネルギーを導入できる配電網の容量が、不釣り合いに少ないことも見いだされた。


Electricity grid limits could not only constrain the future uptake of distributed energy resources in California, USA, but also exacerbate existing racial inequities linked to the adoption of solar energy, according to a study published in Nature Energy.

Potential increases in current flow — brought about by household solar photovoltaic systems — can lead to high temperatures and voltages that can constrain the electricity grid to which these systems are connected. As such, in any given electric circuit, the number of households that can install solar electricity generation is limited. Solar energy adoption at the household level is known to exacerbate existing racial and economic inequities, namely as a result of the upfront investment needed. However, the relationship between grid hosting capacity and these inequities has not yet been examined.

In order to analyse potential limits to the integration of new distributed energy resources, Anna Brockway and colleagues mapped the grid capacity of California’s two largest utility territories. These results were then analysed in conjunction with corresponding demographic data. The authors reveal that, under current conditions, the grid only has enough capacity to support less than half of the households in these territories with the adoption of solar photovoltaic systems to meet all their electricity needs. Grid limits were also found to reinforce demographic disparities in access, with Black-identifying and disadvantaged communities having disproportionately less grid capacity to host renewable solar energy at the household level.

The authors conclude that these grid capacity limits suggest the need for significant infrastructure upgrades, and that racial inequities should also be a priority when designing the policies for such upgrades.

doi: 10.1038/s41560-021-00887-6


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