Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Report: Solar Can Cut Summer Peak Power Demand in Half in Texas

Solar Energy Panels in Austin, Texas.

Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News.

Solar Energy Panels in Austin, Texas.

Rooftop solar panels can result in significant power savings for homes in Texas during the summer, according to new research from the Pecan Street Research Institute. And by doing so, it could help lessen the strain on the Texas electric grid.

The Pecan Street Research Institute is a collection of energy-efficient, innovative homes (many with solar panels and electric cars) in a smart grid research project. In this experiment  the group looked at 50 homes in Austin that are part of its research network. On average, the solar systems reduced energy use from the grid by 58 percent. The savings were most notable for homes with west-facing systems, which produced nearly 50 percent more power during the hot summer afternoons than south-facing systems.

The state is currently debating how to provide enough power for a growing number of residents, especially when the grid can at times be stretched like during the summer. Pecan Street’s research may point to one option for dealing with the potential power crunch, at least on a small scale and with the proper incentives. “These findings suggest that rooftop solar systems can produce large summer peak reductions that benefit utilities and customers alike without requiring customers to change their behavior or sacrifice comfort,” Pecan Street CEO Brewster McCracken said in the report.

Some more results from the report:

  • “During peak hours, homes used 80% of the power generated from the rooftop systems and returned 20% to the grid. In the homes with south-facing systems, 78% of the power generated was used in the home; 22% was returned to the grid.  In homes with west-facing systems, 84% was used in the home; 16% was returned to the grid.”
  • “Over the course of the full day, 64% of the energy generated by the rooftop systems was consumed on-site; 36% was returned to the grid.”

You can read more over at Pecan Street.


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