Duck, Duck, Go bankrupt, California’s energy policy.

Depend on renewable power

is chancy in sunshine or shower.

California’s surge

is becoming a scourge;

the losses add up every hour.

It started innocently enough. In 2012 the California power demand was nearly constant, with power varying 20% from maximum to minimum hourly demand.

Image result for duck curve california

Then California decided to have 50% of renewable energy by 2030, mostly by solar and wind, and passed it into law, but the hydroelectric capacity could not be increased due to “environmental concerns”.

The push for renewable energy has succeeded beyond their wildest dreams, so the goal may be met in 2020, not 2030. There is one major problem.

What can be done when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine? The electric need must still be met. And therein lies the problem. The sun only shines during daytime, and there is already a surplus of energy in the middle of the day. This affects the prices for peak power, so mush so, that wind and sun generated energy has to pay to feed the grid. They are heavily subsidized, so as long as the amount they have to pay is less than the subsidy the grid will be fed, and the base generation will have to be lowered to stabilize the grid. The prices range from minus five cents/kWh to about 55 c/kWh. (The peak price has been as high as 98 c/kWh during peak demand.

Image result for duck curve california

Burt that is only part of the problem. The non-renewable electricity providers will have to double the electricity production every day between 5 and 8 p.m. every day. Using capacitors to even out the grid variations solves 0.3% of the problem.Some can be done by using the dams for power generation, but the grid is not built to handle the drastically increased demand, and environmental fights makes it impossible to build out the grid. In addition, the dams are far away from the areas that need the electricity, in other words, it is a mess.

And the consumer is left to pay the extra costs, and the taxpayer is left to pay the extra subsidies.

Talking about subsidies: Electric cars are subsidized to the tune of 2500 to 7500 dollars, and they are recharged when? They are driven mostly during daytime, and when people come home they are put in the charger – at 55 c/kWh to the utility.

Clean energy is not cheap, and it is not clean since the non renewable electric production capacity still has to be fully built up for the time when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow.

Published by

lenbilen

Engineer, graduated from Chalmers Technical University a long time ago with a degree in Technical Physics. Career in Aerospace, Analytical Chemistry, and chip manufacturing. Presently adjunct faculty at PSU, teaching one course in Computer Engineering, the Capstone Course.

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