Essays on Solar Photovoltaic Adoption and Electricity Consumption Patterns: Evidence from Paradise.

Anukoolthamchote, Chasuta
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This dissertation studies several aspects of the widespread adoption of solar photovoltaic (PV) and how such rapid adoptions has been impacting the electric grid and consumers’ electricity consumption. Chapter 1 addresses the underlying determinants of variability within net electricity load, specifically in light of increasing levels of solar saturation in Oahu. It is found that, regardless of the level of solar power generation, customer mix exerts a significant impact on the pattern and level of net load from hour to hour. The PV penetration elasticity of volatility of net electricity load shows that if the level of PV penetration in a certain area were to increase by 100%, the volatility of net electricity load on that area would be expected to increase by 3%, ceteris paribus. Taking into account the increased PV adoptions, the dynamic between residential and commercial electricity use patterns immensely reduces issues resulting from high variability in solar power generation. To better support the integration of solar PV and other distributed energy resources, it is crucial to understand the evolution and diffusion of solar PV technology. In Chapter 2, we examine adoption trends and characteristics of residential PV adopters in Oahu, Hawaiʻi. Homes having PV installations are found to be newer, larger, more energy efficient, and less costly per square foot than those without a PV installation. The analysis also reveals that early PV adopters, defined as those installing PV systems before 2012, are generally older, wealthier, more likely to own their own home, and had higher levels of educational attainment than do their contemporary counterparts. To better understand the true impact of solar PV adoption on electricity consumption, Chapter 3 evaluates whether residential PV adopters exhibit changes in their energy demand, including responsiveness to price and weather fluctuations, following installation of PV systems. An initial examination of pre- and post-installation consumption trends within the sample dataset indicates that PV households increase their electricity usage by approximately 3% in the first year following PV adoption, with this growth rate gradually decreasing in ensuing years. Conversely, non-PV customers exhibit consistently decreasing electricity consumption over the observed time period. To more clearly understand the impact of solar adoption on electricity consumption, we divide PV households on the basis of their PV sizing decisions. Towards this end, we first define a set of three distinct PV sizing categories: Net Import, those who “under-sized” their PV systems; Net Zero, those who sized their PV system to offset roughly 100% of their pre-solar consumption; and Net Export, those who install “larger than necessary” PV systems. Using this grouping, we find that the majority of households within the sample dataset fall under the Net Zero group, with only 2% classified as Net Export households. It is observed that Net Import households decrease consumption by approximately 4% in the first year following PV adoption. Conversely, Net Zero households consume more energy after PV installation, increasing their electricity consumption by approximately 8% in the first year following PV adoption. Net Export households exhibit the largest post-installation increase in consumption, which increases by over 30% in the first year following installation and by over 50% by the end of the fourth year post-installation. We further estimate electricity demand showing that household responsiveness to price and weather variations is found to differ before and after installation of solar PV systems. Following PV installation, household consumption becomes more sensitive to price variation, estimated between -0.25 and -0.17. Clear differences are also observed between the various PV sizing groups in both their pre-solar responses to price, and the impact of installation on their price response. Electricity consumption in Net Import and Net Zero households becomes more elastic to price variations following PV installation. Conversely, Net Export households become less responsive to price after installation of “over-sized” PV systems.
solar PV adoption, rooftop PV, PV penetration, electricity consumption behavior, electricity demand, renewable energy, technology diffusion
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