Energy in Oregon

Solar energy is Oregon’s most abundant and available renewable energy resource. 

Solar Panels in Field
The solar resource availability east of the Cascades is typically 30-40 percent greater than the Willamette Valley or coast. However, solar energy technologies work throughout Oregon and generate electrical and thermal energy in all parts of the state.

Common solar technologies include passive lighting during the daytime, active or passive solar spaceheating, solar water heating, and solar electric or photovoltaic (PV) systems. PV systems use the sun’s energy to generate electricity, which is typically fed back to the grid through an electric service panel.  

 

Solar Electric (PV) Cost Reductions

The cost of PV systems has gone down over the years thanks to declining equipment costs. Future cost reductions are likely to be driven by other costs, including labor, permitting fees, customer acquisition, and other administrative costs associated with installing a system.

As costs continue to drop, solar is expected to reach grid parity – which means solar costs are more similar to traditional power sources.

 

Integration Challenges

Solar is an intermittent resource, with a peak output occurring in the middle of the day and no output occurring at night. In some markets, such as California and Hawaii where there is much more solar capacity on the grid, this has created integration challenges for utilities and project developers. Utilities must balance their generation sources to meet customer demands, and project developers are faced with declining value for the energy produced by solar systems at times when demand is low. 

Several strategies can help address these challenges, including advanced inverter technologies, integrated battery storage systems, load shifting (demand management), and the creation of a Western Energy Imbalance Market. The relatively small amount of solar installed in Oregon has not yet created integration issues, but integration may become more significant as Oregon’s Renewable Portfolio Standard ramps up over the next 25 years. Senate Bill 1547​ (2016) established a target of 50 percent renewables for Oregon's investor-owned utilities by 2040.

Resources
 Renewable Energy Development Grants
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​Contact the Planning & Innovation Team:
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