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Distributed Solar on the Grid: Key Opportunities and Challenges

17 November 2016

The Clean Energy Solutions Center, in partnership with USAID and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), hosted this webinar as part of the toolkit project, a USAID and NREL collaboration designed to support countries in integrating renewable energy into the power system.

Distributed, grid-connected photovoltaic (DGPV) systems pose a unique set of opportunities and challenges. Key technical and economic challenges related to DGPV integration are shaping how we plan, operate, regulate and even conceptualize the power system. Panelists in the webinar provided a high-level overview of the USAID Distributed Generation Technical Assistance program, provided some context as to the prospective role of DGPV in developing countries and discussed the key economic and technical challenges/opportunities associated with DGPV programs, including:

  • Challenges of DGPV to the traditional utility business model and potential solutions
  • Various costs and benefits of DGPV
  • Ensuring DGPV systems are “good grid citizens” through promotion of technical standards, interconnection processes and mitigation strategies
  • Challenges and opportunities for distribution system planning under increasing penetrations of DGPV

Presentations were followed by a discussion of key strategies that can mitigate integration costs and help balance the benefits of DGPV among consumers and electric utilities.

The webinar was presented by Owen Zinaman and Michael Coddington from NREL. It was followed by an interactive question and answer session with the audience, moderated by Dr. Jeffery Haeni from USAID.


Owen Zinaman Owen Zinaman

Owen Zinaman is a Power Sector Analyst at the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and serves as the Technical Lead for the USAID Distributed Generation Technical Assistance Program. He also serves as the Deputy Lead to the 21st Century Power Partnership, a multilateral initiative of the Clean Energy Ministerial operating power sector transformation technical assistance programs in South Africa, Mexico and India. He received his Masters degree in Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, with a focus on science and technology public policy.

Michael CoddingtonMichael Coddington

Michael Coddington is a Principal Electrical Engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and has focused on the interconnection and integration of Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) onto the utility distribution grid. Much of his work has been on the development and application of relevant standards and codes such as UL1741, IEEE 1547, and the National Electrical Code (NEC). He has also been involved in the IEA PVPS Task 14, which is an internationally focused group on high PV penetration. Prior to NREL, Michael spent almost 20 years working in the electric utility industry where he focused on electric distribution design and planning, key account management, and utility operations.

Jeffrey HaeniJeffrey Haeni

Jeffrey Haeni is the Energy Division Chief for the USAID in Washington, DC. Mr. Haeni provides support to USAID Missions worldwide on the design, implementation, and evaluation of clean energy projects. In this role, Mr. Haeni has worked in over 16 countries, including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Mali, Bangladesh, Liberia, India, South Africa, Indonesia, Nepal, Zambia, Colombia, Haiti, Jamaica, and Guyana. Before joining USAID, Mr. Haeni was an energy specialist on the Economic Policy Staff in the African Bureau at the Department of State and served as an energy advisor to Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ) in the U.S. House of Representatives. Mr. Haeni has a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Electrical Engineering from the Pennsylvania State University.