Solar energy is
Oregon’s most abundant and available renewable energy resource.
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.
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
Working with partners and stakeholders, we are implementing a federal Northwest Solar Communities grant to make residential solar energy more competitive by reducing soft costs.
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.