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What Kinds of Distributed Generation Technologies Defer Network Expansions? Evidence from France

April 30, 2021

We estimate the relationship between distributed generation investments and hourly net injections to the distribution grid across over 2,000 substations in France between 2005 and 2018. A 1 MW increase in solar PV capacity has no statistically significant impact on the highest percentiles of the annual distribution of hourly net of injections to the distribution grid. A 1 MW increase in wind capacity is predicted to reduce the 99th percentile of the annual distribution of hourly net injections to the distribution grid by 0.037 MWh. In contrast, a 1 MW investment in a distributed small hydro, non-renewable thermal, or renewable thermal generation unit predicts an almost five times larger MWh reduction in the 99th percentile of the annual distribution of hourly net injections to the distribution grid. A 1 MW investment in distributed solar PV or wind capacity predicts substantial absolute changes in both extremes of the annual distribution of hourly ramp rates of net injections to the distribution grid. For the remaining three distributed generation technologies, a 1 MW capacity increase does not predict a non-zero change in any percentile of the annual distribution of hourly ramp rates of net injections to the distribution grid. These results argue that, at least for the case of France, increases in distributed solar and wind capacity are more likely to lead to increases, rather than decreases, in distribution network investments.