While renewable energy systems are capable of powering houses and small businesses without any connection to the electricity grid, many people prefer the advantages that grid-connection offers.
A grid-connected system allows you to power your home or small business with renewable energy during those periods (daily as well as seasonally) when the sun is shining, the water is running, or the wind is blowing. Any excess electricity you produce is fed back into the grid. When renewable resources are unavailable, electricity from the grid supplies your needs, eliminating the expense of electricity storage devices like batteries.
In addition, power providers (i.e., electric utilities) in most states allow net metering, an arrangement where the excess electricity generated by grid-connected renewable energy systems turns back your electricity meter as it is fed back into the grid. If you use more electricity than your system feeds into the grid during a given month, you pay your power provider only for the difference between what you used and what you produced.
Some of the things you need to know when thinking about connecting your home energy system to the electric grid include:
Equipment required to connect your system to the grid
Grid-connection requirements from your power provider
State and community codes and requirements
EQUIPMENT REQUIRED FOR GRID-CONNECTED SYSTEMS
Aside from the major small renewable energy system components, you will need to purchase some additional equipment (called balance-of-system) in order to safely transmit electricity to your loads and comply with your power providers grid-connection requirements. You may need the following items:
Power conditioning equipment
Meters and instrumentation.
Because grid-connection requirements vary, you or your system supplier/installer should contact your power provider to learn about its specific grid-connection requirements before purchasing any part of your renewable energy system. See our page on balance-of-system equipment requirements for small renewable energy systems.
GRID-CONNECTION REQUIREMENTS FROM YOUR POWER PROVIDER
Currently, requirements for connecting distributed generation systemslike home renewable energy or wind systemsto the electricity grid vary widely. But all power providers face a common set of issues in connecting small renewable energy systems to the grid, so regulations usually have to do with safety and power quality, contracts (which may require liability insurance), and metering and rates.
ADDRESSING SAFETY AND POWER QUALITY FOR GRID CONNECTION
Power providers want to be sure that your system includes safety and power quality components. These components include switches to disconnect your system from the grid in the event of a power surge or power failure (so repairmen are not electrocuted) and power conditioning equipment to ensure that your power exactly matches the voltage and frequency of the electricity flowing through the grid.
Source: Breaking Energy
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