You might not normally expect to find inspiration when reviewing the latest series of comments filed under PUC Docket 40000, the Commission Proceeding to Ensure Resource Adequacy in Texas. But, we actually found some when reviewing the comments filed earlier this month from First Solar.
They were responding to the question as to what resources should be allowed to participate in any contemplated procurement market. As a player in the design and construction of photovoltaic solar plants, you might expect them to offer the argument that solar power is a renewable resource, is green and therefore good, and should be granted special considerations and advantages. After all, there is some history in ERCOT of renewable resources generating what they want, when they want, where they want, and leaving the rest of the grid to work around the problems often created as a result.
Instead, First Solar showed how their additional investment in a plant level control system, providing direct control over the hundreds of individual array inverters in a solar plant, could shape the total power output of a solar plant to accommodate the needs of the grid. This would subject solar plant output to ramp rate control, and to voltage and frequency regulation and response, thereby helping the reliability and stability of the grid.
A renewable resource and technology, not arguing for special treatment, but instead making the effort to more closely emulate the capabilities of conventional generation, and incorporating the needs of the grid into their design: inspiring indeed.
Details about First Solar proposal can be found here: