Thursday, April 27, 2017

USA: California: Problem With Too Much Variable Renewable Energy in Golden State?

Is the Duck Sinking? (Energy Institute at Haas)

by Catherine Wolfram, Cora Jane Flood Professor of Business Administration at the Haas School of Business, Co-Director of the Energy Institute at Haas, and a Faculty Director of The E2e Project

As of last spring, the projections in the duck curve were materializing on schedule, as Meredith’s blog post described. During 2016, however, utility-scale solar PV capacity in the state grew by another 50%. As a result, net load in the middle of the day on a recent Sunday (April 9) bottomed out at 10,000 MW (see the green line in the graph below), instead of the 14,000 MW projected for 2017 in the forecast duck (the dark orange line labeled “2017” in the graph above).

[For reference, on April 9 geothermal provided a constant, steady baseload supply of 22,473 MWh]

All the solar and hydropower have led to a new phenomenon – negative prices in the middle of the day. The blue line in the graph above depicts day-ahead prices for Sunday, April 9 in Southern California. For comparison purposes, the red line depicts day-ahead prices at the same location on the second Sunday in April 2012. Looks like another version of the duck, albeit drawn by a preschooler, and this time with price on the vertical axis.

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