Tuesday, July 5, 2016

USA, California: The Over-Generation Problem in The Golden State

California’s duck curve has arrived earlier than expected (REnew Economy)

As early as 2013, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) was predicting that with so much new solar generation expected by 2020, the mid-day hours on sunny days would be inundated with a flood of solar power, displacing thermal generation.

CAISO was originally most concerned about the sunny spring days when California’s demand tends to be low due to cool temperatures while solar generation could be high.

The grid operator was also concerned about the late afternoon ramping required to make up for the loss of solar generation as sun sets with peak demand following in early evening hours. The so-called California duck curve has become well-known around the world. Similar patterns are now common in other countries, including Australia, for example.

That was before the state lawmakers passed a bill to raise California’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) from 33% by 2020 to 50% by 2030, promptly signed by Governor Jerry Brown, who is as green as you can get despite his brown name.

As it turns out, CAISO was spot on in predicting the deepening belly of the duck but under-estimated the speed of solar uptake by at least 4 years. The data from March-April of 2016 confirms that the belly of the duck is getting fatter much earlier than originally estimated.

There will be a GRC Fieldtrip to the headquarters of CAISO from the GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal Energy Expo, October 23-26, Sacramento, California.

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