Contributions of Solar + Storage to Future Power Needs

Research output: NRELPresentation


The costs of solar photovoltaics (PV) have been dropping in recent years, leading to increasing installations of solar PV systems and growing interest in how the technology will impact the electric grid. Additionally, as battery costs decline, there is increasing interest in understanding the benefits and limitations of battery storage for the grid as well as potential co-benefits of coupling battery storage and photovoltaics. This paper presents recent methodological developments to more accurately represent the value and limitations of coupled PV and battery systems in capacity expansion models. These are demonstrated using the Resource Planning Model (RPM), which co-optimizes capacity investments, transmission investments, and reduced-order dispatch through 2045. We simulate the evolution of the generation and transmission system in the Western Interconnection both with and without a coupled PV and battery technology option under two core scenarios - a baseline scenario and a high renewable penetration scenario - coupled with sensitivities assuming low and mid PV and battery cost projections. We analyze the degree to which a variety of configurations of coupled PV + Battery systems are able to meet future electricity needs, under which system conditions this coupled technology becomes beneficial to the electric grid and identify the displaced technologies when coupled solar and storage is introduced into the model. We find that capturing the benefits of co-locating these systems becomes increasingly important as the penetration of solar PV rises, and that in particular it is important to accurately capture the ability of these technologies to shift energy, provide firm capacity, and reduce expected curtailment.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages13
StatePublished - 2019

Publication series

NamePresented at the 9th Annual Energy Policy Research Conference (EPRC 2019), 30 September - 1 October 2019, Boise, Idaho

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-6A20-74962


  • capacity expansion model
  • solar
  • solar plus storage
  • storage


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