“The duck has landed,” writes California-based energy expert Meredith Fowlie about renewables pushing demand for conventional power at midday below the overnight level. But what Californians call a technical limit is, in reality, a political one, as Craig Morris’s comparison with Germany reveals. Recently, I wrote about how California and Germany see the world differently when it comes to renewables. Simply put, Californians believe they have “excess” renewable electricity at a point where the Germans would say California hasn’t broken a sweat yet. Here we see what the Germans call the “residual load” and what Fowlie’s blog post at UC Berkeley’s Energy Institute calls the “net load” – peak demand for non-renewable electricity. In 2013, the level was around 22,000 MW at noon, but solar power production at midday is reducing that level to 14,000. Fowlie concludes that “renewables integration challenges (sic) are showing up more or less on schedule.” She says that “the duck’s growing belly highlights the near-term potential for ‘over-generation.’” She adds that “California is not alone in creating and confronting unprecedented renewable integration complications” but otherwise only refers to Hawaii. Wow, sounds like California is entering new territory with renewables!
Renew Economy 21st July 2016 read more »
Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) recently started the process of shutting down the Diablo Canyon generation facility, the last active nuclear power plant in California. The power plant, located near Avila Beach on the central Californian coast, consists of two 1,100 megawatt (MW) reactors and produces 18,000 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity a year, about 8.5 percent of California’s electricity consumption in 2015. It has been, up until this point, the single largest electrical generation facility in the state. A number of significant unanswered questions remain about this ambitious energy policy, as the planned closing by 2025 of Diablo Canyon illustrates. Can utilities supply electricity around the clock using these alternative generation sources? And crucially, can energy storage technologies provide the power on demand that traditional generators have done? In order to meet customer electricity demand at all hours, energy storage technologies, alongside more renewable sources and increased energy efficiency, will be needed. There are many different energy storage technologies currently available or in the process of commercialization, but each falls into one of four basic categories: chemical storage as in batteries, kinetic storage such as flywheels, thermal storage and magnetic storage. California’s commitment to renewable energy sources has helped shift the state to using less fossil fuels and emitting less greenhouse gases. However, careful planning is needed to ensure that energy storage systems are installed to take over the baseline load duties currently held by natural gas and nuclear power, as renewables and energy efficiency may not be able to carry the burden.
The Conversation 20th July 2016 read more »