I co-authored a blog post for the Opower blog entitled: 9% of solar homes are doing something utilities love. Will others follow?
The study was published today and was also covered today in some detail in the piece: Why More Solar Panels Should Be Facing West, Not South – The New York Times
Our findings indicate that the vast majority of solar panels are directed southwards today, but it would be advantageous for the grid if they were instead oriented westwards. Their late afternoon power production would be significantly greater and could thus help with the peak load that happens in the late afternoon / early evening.
Simple mechanisms, such as time-of-use (TOU) prices for solar power produced, could change the solar landscape dramatically. If it is economically advantageous for the grid to have west-facing panels, then it makes sense for utilities to set up incentives for their customers to behave accordingly. Aligning the desires of the grid with the desires of the owners of solar panels will make a more effective grid for everyone – especially now that we are heading into an era in which solar power will begin to have a large effect on the entire grid.