Solar Integration Cost

Emerging technologies used to manage load, distributed energy resources, and other assets in the distribution grid can also be used to integrate distributed solar generation. This project assesses the cost and viability of such technologies to expand the hosting capacity of the grid.

A PV array in the mountains.

This project studies the potential of technologies such as remote inverter control, volt-VAR optimization, autonomous inverter settings, and load control to integrate distributed generation into the grid more efficiently than current upgrade methodologies. Traditionally, upgrades have included reconductoring; upgrading or adding new equipment such as transformers, voltage regulators, and capacitor banks; and changing equipment settings. Emerging technologies have the potential to expedite and lower the cost of solar integration.

NREL performs power flow simulations to estimate the costs and benefits of using different technologies to expand the hosting capacity of real feeders. The objective comparison of the net technical and financial benefits of different technologies can inform the decisions of utilities, policymakers, and technology providers interested in managing the addition of solar resources to the distribution grid.


  • Dynamic hosting capacity calculation
  • Automated feeder upgrade analysis to reach target hosting capacity with minimal excursions from acceptable operational ranges
  • Cost-benefit analysis of solar integration technologies


Evaluating the Curtailment Risk of Non-Firm Utility-Scale Solar Photovoltaic Plants Under a Novel Last-In First-Out Principle of Access Interconnection Agreement, NREL Technical Report (2021)

The Los Angeles 100% Renewable Energy Study (LA100), NREL Technical Report (2021)

A Techno-Economic Comparison of Traditional Upgrades, Volt-Var Controls, and Coordinated Distributed Energy Resource Management Systems for Integration of Distributed Photovoltaic Resources, International Journal of Electrical Power and Energy Systems (2020)


Julieta Giraldez

Senior Engineer