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Home » All » Building a resilient grid: Infrastructure & tech powering seamless solar integration

If safe, reliable, and abundant access to renewable energy is the goal for electricity in the U.S., then resilient grid integration efforts are the road required to get there.

In this article, we highlight how industry innovation, energy storage solutions, and upgraded infrastructure create an advanced, resilient, and equitable power grid while empowering the development of solar electric resources.

Powering progress: Smart grids, storage, & upgraded infrastructure

With ongoing efforts across the country, here are three leading ways the energy grid is becoming more resilient and advantageous for solar power integration.

1. Smart grids

Like smartphones or smart watches, smart grids are a new update to an old system with improved technology adept for a changing world. A combination of hardware and software, the IEA (International Energy Agency) defines a smart grid as an “electricity network that uses digital technologies, sensors, and software to better match the supply and demand of electricity in real-time while minimizing costs and maintaining the stability and reliability of the grid.”

Smart grids allow for better integration of solar energy in several ways. This includes:

  • Real-time monitoring: Traditional or “non-smart” energy grids lack monitoring and real-time control, which presents a massive opportunity for smart grids to improve energy efficiency. With enhanced oversight and real-time controls, smart grids can better transmit and distribute solar electricity with more precise measurements and strategies to minimize energy loss.
  • Predictive analytics: In tracking energy data and analyzing trends, smart technology enables grid operators to better predict and plan for the production, distribution, and consumption of solar resources. Compounding over time, continuous analytics enable ongoing optimization for improved grid efficiency and resilience based on hyper-specific energy data across utility service areas.
  • Demand-response capabilities: With combined analytics and controls, smart grids can enable improved energy demand response with solar resources deployed wherever and whenever necessary. During routine weekday energy surges, holidays, or other instances of peak demand, smart grids help identify and respond to increased local energy consumption in real time while tapping into interconnected solar resources.

2. Energy storage solutions

Enabling 24/7 solar electricity, energy storage is a key aspect of sustainable power solutions at every scale. On a grid level, battery energy storage systems (BESS) help balance electricity supply and demand with intelligent charging and discharging based on the availability of new power, energy trends, and fluctuations in local electricity consumption. With flexible design, BESS can store the electricity generated from various supply points, including power from utility resources or customer solar installations.

3. Upgraded infrastructure

For a solar-powered future, upgraded infrastructure is one of the most crucial tasks to support grid resiliency and renewable energy integration at scale. To enable more solar interconnections and respond to growing electricity demand from electrification and EV (electric vehicle) charging, aging infrastructure must be updated with new substations, robust transmission lines, and several other ongoing grid improvements.

Building a smarter grid: technology solutions for integrating the sun

Three key technologies are used today for smart grids to operate with solar energy resources.

  • Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) enables bidirectional communication between utilities and consumers with precise tracking and reporting of solar power production and home energy use data. Smart meters with AMI help utilities better manage electricity loads in response to local trends, including time-of-use energy rates for electricity consumption or solar production that reflect real-time supply and demand.
  • Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) are a rapidly growing sector in clean energy technology encompassing rooftop solar, standalone battery storage, and several other electricity sources that can be interconnected with the power grid. Today, microgrid technologies are among the most critical DERs for added grid resilience. At the same time, electric vehicles (EVs) with bidirectional charging may soon revolutionize how energy is stored, transported, and shared.
  • Grid Edge Technology is an umbrella term for any hardware, software, or energy solution designed to optimize solar integration on the “edge of the grid” or at the point of interconnection. Most notably, the smart-meter sensors can use distributed intelligence and edge computing to efficiently communicate only necessary data between utilities and DERs, thereby reducing energy waste and sustaining grid resilience.
  • Beyond wires & panels: infrastructure innovations revolutionizing solar grid integration

With ongoing efforts to modernize grid infrastructure in the public and private sectors, several technologies are now being leveraged to maximize the value of solar grid integrations for all stakeholders.

Virtual Power Plants (VPPs)

Controlled by grid operators, a virtual powerplant is a group of DERs (such as a neighborhood’s solar and battery installations) that are “virtually” connected. VPPs provide grid operators with a flexible way to source and distribute electricity, including pooling resources together and quickly balancing grid energy demand. While enrolled in a VPP program, participants are compensated for energy shared with bill credits or direct payments to increase grid resilience.

Blockchain and peer-to-peer trading

Combining distributed energy resources and decentralized platforms, solar integrations and blockchain technologies have synergistic benefits that create value for DER owners. Transparency and security ensured, peer-to-peer energy-sharing presents a unique opportunity for solar producers to be compensated for grid sharing outside traditional utility programs.

Grid hardening

Grid hardening refers to various technologies that can add energy resiliency, such as those designed to increase efficiency, prevent weather-related outages, or protect against cyberattacks. Equipped with today’s smart technology, hardened “self-healing” grids can automatically detect outages, isolate faults, and swiftly restore optimal grid balance.

Collaborative efforts for a solar-powered future

With stakeholders at every level, collaborative efforts between utilities, governments, and clean energy technology companies are critical to help create and maintain a safe and equitable solar-powered future for all.

While homeowners and businesses can leverage federal tax credits for solar panels, batteries, and grid edge equipment, it is up to legislators to maintain these policies and today’s top manufacturers and installers to ensure the projects will qualify for available incentives.

For a more resilient energy grid, utilities must also incentivize customers to invest in DERs like solar panels and batteries with easy interconnection processes, favorable feed-in rates, and equitable grid response programs.

The road ahead: Challenges and opportunities

Looking ahead, grid resilience efforts must overcome three primary challenges to ensure ongoing success.

  • Interconnection Standardization: Solar interconnection standards are implemented at the state level, and differences between permitting processes may slow down project development and increase soft costs for installers working in multiple service areas. If implemented nationally, standardized interconnection processes could speed up project timelines and ensure easier integration of solar resources across state lines.
  • Cybersecurity Concerns: With more data shared, smart grids increase the risk of cyber-attacks, which may threaten energy resilience if vulnerabilities are breached. For this reason, smart grid integrations and solar IoT (Internet of Things) devices must be developed and implemented with robust cybersecurity protocols and oversight.
  • Policy Changes: At the city, state, and federal levels, many policies dictate the value of solar and other DERs, such as net metering guidelines or local energy incentives. While ultimately up to legislators, those who advocate and vote for smart grid and solar-forward incentives can have a lasting impact on local energy economies, air quality, and grid resilience.

Conclusion: A grid ready for the sun

In summary, smart technologies and energy resiliency efforts help modernize and improve electricity grids while enabling the seamless integration of solar resources. With continued innovation, investment, and collaboration between utilities, industry leaders, and the public, an intelligent, resilient, and solar-powered energy grid is a real possibility for the future.


Solargraf: – A web-based design solution for solar installers that streamlines proposal generation, project management, and optimizes solar panel placement through advanced design tools.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL): – A U.S. Department of Energy lab focused on renewable energy research and development.

Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA): – A national trade association for the solar industry in the United States.

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC): – A non-profit organization working to advance the widespread adoption of renewable energy.

Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE): – A U.S. Department of Energy office with a focus on clean energy technologies and programs.