Does installing photovoltaic panels affect daily electricity usage patterns? A generalized additive model approach

Nitin Bhushan, Linda Steg, Lise Jans, Casper Albers*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Installing photovoltaic panels (PV) on household rooftops can significantly contribute to mitigating anthropogenic climate change. The mitigation potential will be much higher when households would use PVs in a sustainable way, that is, if they match their electricity demand to their PVs electricity production, as to avoid using electricity from the grid. Whilst some have argued that owning PVs motivate households to use their PV in a sustainable way, others have argued that owning a PV does not result in load shifting, or that PV owners may even use more energy when their PV production is low. This paper addresses this critical issue, by examining to what extent PV owners are likely to shift their electricity demand to reduce the use of electricity from the grid. Extending previous studies, we analyse actual high frequency electricity use from the grid using smart meter data of households with and without PVs. Specifically, we employ generalized additive models to examine whether hourly net electricity use (i.e., the difference between electricity consumed from the grid and supplied back to the grid) of households with PVs is not only lower during times when PV production is high, but also when PV production low, compared to households without PVs. Results indicate that during times when PV production is high, net electricity use of households with PV is negative, suggesting they sent back excess electricity to the power grid. However, we found no difference in net electricity use during times when PV production is low. This suggests that installing PV does not promote sustainable PV use, and that the mitigation potential of PV installment can be enhanced by encouraging sustainable PV use.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100052
Number of pages9
JournalEnergy and Climate Change
Early online date28-Aug-2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2021

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