California has implemented a law requiring utilities to procure 33% of their electricity from eligible renewable energy sources by 2020, of which solar will comprise a significant part.

As more and more solar comes online, however, utilities are grappling with its disruptive effects on the grid. Non-renewable power sources are relatively constant.

They are very predictable and rarely impacted by time of day, season, or hour-to-hour changes in weather conditions. That is not the case with PVs.

PV capacity is different in summer than it is in winter. In volatile weather, it can change significantly on an hour-by-hour, or even minute-by-minute basis.

“Loading is a particular concern as PVs enter the grid,” says Brandy Henson, GridSense Sales Manager. “Grappling with significant power fluctuations challenges traditional utility models. It demands a more fluid and flexible smart grid control mechanism. To accomplish that, you need extensive, reliable monitoring.”

The California utility is using LineIQ(TM) monitoring system on distribution lines surrounding PVs to gauge their impact as they feed the grid.

Monitoring will focus on fluctuations at different times of day, and due to sun and weather conditions. For this application, LineIQ(TM) has been programmed to sample every two seconds to ensure a truly high-resolution view of line conditions over time.

With its ability to monitor lines up to 138kV, self-powered design, and accommodation of any communications protocol, the unit is uniquely qualified for this type of high-intensity monitoring.

Considering the worldwide emphasis on integrating PV and other renewables into the grid, GridSense anticipates an increase in the demand for renewable energy source monitoring.

“We’re thrilled that utilities are continuing to recognize the value and versatility of the LineIQ(TM) monitoring solution,” says Henson. “The ability to monitor higher voltage lines, the depth of intelligent data it collects, and its aptitude for extremely high-intensity sampling make it a perfect tool to help utilities seamlessly integrate more renewables into their network.”