California to boost solar and wind capacity to meet renewable goals

At-a-Glance:

The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) region plans to increase its solar and wind power capacity in 2021 to help meet the state’s target of 50% renewable generation by 2025, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). To learn more, read, “California to boost solar and wind capacity to meet renewable goals.”

Key Takeaways:

  • The CAISO plans to add an additional 1.6 gigawatts (GW) of utility-scale solar capacity, 0.4 GW of onshore wind turbine capacity and 2.5 GW of battery storage capacity this year, the EIA said.
    • These batteries could be charged using renewable power generation that would otherwise have been curtailed.
  • Additionally, two projects are being developed to facilitate hydrogen production and hydrogen-based energy storage, which could also help reduce curtailments of excess solar output.
  • Excess supply from renewable sources has prompted the grid to increasingly curtail solar and wind generation at times, even as it struggles to balance its clean energy push with the need to boost tight power supplies and avoid rolling blackouts amid heatwaves.

Path to 100% Perspective: 

California can reach its goal of serving 100% of retail load with renewable energy. However, this cannot be achieved with its current portfolio of resources. The rolling blackouts in summer 2020 show that California needs additional resources to supplement the tools already in place. More specifically, California needs new resources that complement the wind, solar, and hydro needed for a shift to a 100% renewable electricity system. Slow ramping, long start, baseload resources must be replaced by faster, more flexible resources that are capable of running on sustainable fuels. Sustainable fuels produced by excess wind and solar energy, plus storage resources, can enable California to cleanly and reliably shift energy from low-net loads to high-net loads.

 

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California duck curve “alive and well” as renewable, minimum net load records set

At-a-Glance:

High wind and solar production combined with low demand led the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) to reach a new record of 92.5% of load served by renewables and 98.1% of load served by carbon-free resources,CAISO reported. To learn more, read “California duck curve ‘alive and well’ as renewable, minimum net load records set.”

Key Takeaways:

  • The records were set on March 13. That same day,  CAISO established a new minimum net load, which is load minus wind and solar generation, 3.614 GW.
  • Wind generation averaged 22% of the total fuel mix on March 13, the highest daily average on record, according to CAISO data. That jump in wind generation drove wind and solar generation to a combined daily average of 39.2% of the mix, more than double the three-year average.
  • CAISO has made significant progress in working with the battery storage community to support system reliability during stressed operating conditions by establishing a minimum state of charge requirement that will be applied when day-ahead markets indicate the potential for insufficiency.
  • CAISO is also initiating longer-term market design work with storage providers to develop enhancements that will support system reliability while more effectively addressing the commercial and asset optimization needs of a diverse fleet of storage resources.

Path to 100% Perspective:

California has made impressive gains in its integration of renewables into the power supply mix. While these numbers are worth celebrating, there is much more work to do if the state is going to meet its 100% clean energy target by 2045. It is possible, and the Optimal Plan provides the

lowest transition costs by including flexible thermal generation. The flexible thermal generation assets can be converted as needed to use carbon-neutral fuels produced with excess solar and wind energy through Power-to-X, forming a large, distributed, long-term energy storage system.

 

Photo by Paul Tune on Unsplash