Washington, DC, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — July 20, 2012 – Smart grid solutions along with energy efficiency and generation from renewable sources offer the way for the Dominican Republic to reduce its dependence on imported fuels and vulnerability to global oil price fluctuations, according to a new report.
In particular, decentralized generation using renewable energy systems is particularly attractive in the Dominican Republic because of high transmission and distribution losses in the existing grid as well as the prevalence of residential backup power systems, mostly diesel-powered generators.
Further, improving the grid’s reach and capacity is important for the most efficient and highest level of integration of variable renewable generation.
The report, Roadmap to a Sustainable Energy System, from the Worldwatch Institute is the first in a series setting out how countries can improve their economies and model the switch to low and no carbon energy.
The Dominican Republic is highly reliant on imported fossil fuels, necessary for over eighty-five percent of its electricity production. The country also has one of the highest rates of distribution losses, nearing 38 percent in 2010, mainly due to capped electricity prices, theft, blackouts, inadequate investment in capacity upgrades, and limited regulatory capacity.
The study found that there is strong solar potential across the country, and particularly for the two biggest load centers, Santo Domingo and Santiago, solar could be a favorable source of electricity. In addition, 78 sites were identified as having potential for wind resources, in addition to others in the south- and northwest.
The report says that achieving a high penetration of interconnected DG will require that both grid operators and regulators have a better understanding of several key issues, as well as a greater awareness of the potential solutions. Among these are power flow reversal, voltage regulation, harmonic distortion and unintentional islanding.
It is difficult to determine the exact level of distributed generation penetration that will require strengthening of the Dominican Republic’s distribution network. However, it is critical that installers and grid operators devote serious attention to these issues.
There are also many things the Dominican Republic can do to ease the integration of utility scale variable generation into its grid. In addition to upgrading and expanding the transmission and distribution networks, others include increasing the ramp rates of its conventional generation fleet, moving to a sub-hourly electricity market, and exploring interconnection with Puerto Rico.
The report also notes that a major hurdle for further development of renewable energy (particularly solar) in the Dominican Republic is uncertainty surrounding the implementation of a feed-in tariff. However, the recent introduction of legislation on net metering for small residential producers is an important sign of progress.