Establishing interconnection to the grid is a recognized barrier to the deployment of distributed energy generation, both in the United States and in Germany (Rose et al. 2010, German Solar Industry Association [GSIA] 2010). In the United States, stringent technical requirements, obstructive utility practices, and prohibitive regulatory barriers are common obstacles faced by distributed generation projects (Alderfer, Starrs, & Eldridge 2000). In Germany, grid connection procedures are the greatest cause of delay in photovoltaic (PV) system development, according to the German Solar Industry Association (GSIA 2010).

Much progress has been made in the last decade toward standardizing and streamlining interconnection processes. In the United States, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) publishes standard requirements for various technical aspects of grid interconnection (Keyes & Fox 2008). A number of states and regions have developed standard interconnection procedures to normalize utility-developer interactions (Fink, Porter, & Rogers 2010). In Germany, the legal framework established by the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) has resolved some, but not all, obstacles to connecting PV systems to utility grids (GSIA 2010).

Despite reported progress, interconnection wait times are still considered lengthy by some developers. This report preliminarily compares interconnection processes for small residential applications as well as larger commercial- and utility-scale projects in California and Germany to identify important differences. This work is meant to be a starting point to better understand and inform the different interconnection processes. The report first compares the administrative process of establishing interconnection in California and Germany, including the steps taken by developers and utilities and the average length of time utilities take to process applications. Second, this paper compares the burden that the required paperwork places on developers and describes the content and the approximate time required of developers to complete the requisite paperwork. Note that this paper is literature-based and is not a primary research endeavor, and thus the information provided herein is limited by the available literature. Primary research could help better inform understanding of the barriers associated with the interconnection of PV systems....(read more...)