Sunday, August 7, 2016

Another Record for Solar Power in California

Subtitle:  8214 MW - Solar Power Production Records Keep Falling

UPDATE 8/13/2016:  A higher solar production was set on Monday, August 8, 2016 at 1:08 pm, with 8,363 MW reported by CAISO.  -- end update

Yesterday, 6 August, 2016, saw yet another record production from grid-scale solar power plants in California.  From the California Independent System Operator, CAISO, combined PV and thermal solar power reached 8,214 MW at 1:25 pm.  

The graphic at right is a screenshot captured on a smart phone from at that time.  

More solar power plants are under construction in California and will soon be adding their output to the grid.  

As written before on SLB, the state's ambitious renewable portfolio standard requires 50 percent renewables on an annual average by 2030, only 14 years away.  

Present annual average renewables is a bit more than 25 percent.   It is clear, then, that renewable output must double within 14 years to meet the mandate. 

With wind resources limited and almost fully exploited in California, solar power will be the growth area.  Solar thermal power plants are far more expensive to build than the PV plants, and I expect no more solar thermal plants.  The attraction of solar thermal is the ability to include a few hours of storage that can allow electricity production after the sun sets and when power demand peaks.  

However, a better solution to electricity storage is now available with batteries at grid-scale size.  Solar PV is cheaper to install and has far less impact on birds and other aspects of the environment, compared to birds killed by a solar power tower plant.  

The future of California renewables is solar PV in grid-scale sizes, with appropriate battery storage to manage grid fluctuations and storage.    The gigafactory that Tesla is building to turn out batteries will not only supply the electric car market, but also will supply the grid-scale battery market.  

It should be noted that the above production numbers are for metered, grid-scale solar facilities only.  Behind-the-meter rooftop solar PV installations are not included in those numbers.  California Public Utility Commission and California Solar Initiative report that 537,000 rooftop PV installations exist at present.  Output from those rooftop systems is not known with accuracy, but estimates based on average installed capacity of 5 to 7 kW each show an additional 2,100 MW of solar-based electricity was produced yesterday.  

And in a direct comment to the nay-sayers, it is noted that the grid performed admirably with no reported problems of stability, brownouts, nor blackouts.   

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Marina del Rey, California

copyright (c) 2016 by Roger Sowell - all rights reserved

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