“The forced energy transformation crowd continues to be in denial about how badly the California grid has been compromised by wind and solar, how expensive the battery solution is, and the prospect of Big Brother in the home (setting temperatures and restricting power use at will). As Ludwig von Mises observed, the failure of government intervention leads to more and more intervention, posing a choice between free markets and Leviathan.”
Social media is where the industry experts and talented professionals are effectively challenging the “magical thinking” behind climate alarmism/forced energy transformation, given the blackout of the mainstream media. As yet another example, Mike Hassaballa, energy engineer and consultant, reported on LinkedIn: “California’s Duck Curve Hits Record Lows.” His comment and graphics follow.
The famous “Duck Curve” that symbolizes the challenges of integrating renewable energy into the grid has reached an all-time low.
The Duck Curve, initially coined by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), illustrates the daily electricity demand and supply patterns in California. Its distinctive shape resembles a duck with its head and neck representing the daily net load, i.e., the difference between electricity demand and generation.
But why is this curve so important? The Duck Curve showcases the impact of renewable energy sources, particularly solar power, on the grid. As solar panels proliferate across California, the curve’s belly – symbolizing midday surplus energy – has been steadily growing. This phenomenon poses a challenge as it can result in excess electricity during the day, followed by a rapid ramp-up in demand as the sun sets. Managing this imbalance is crucial for a stable and reliable energy system.
This highlights the pressing need for energy storage solutions, demand response programs, and further integration of renewable energy into the grid. By effectively managing the duck curve, we can accelerate our transition to a more sustainable and resilient energy future.
More than 200 comments followed, most from the pro-renewables crowd arguing, in effect, “okay, this presents a challenge that the next phase of energy transformation, such as batteries and demand-reduction, must address.”
The critics of forced grid solar had comments ranging from “That is one ugly duckling,” which elicited the response: “It’s bound to be, it’s based on ‘quack’ climate science.” Then came the more serious. Dan Fowler commented in part:
The takeaway is that no new solar projects should be permitted (or are needed) without an equal amount of storage being made available.
No amount of batteries will address this problem at a fiscally sensible level. Pursuing further penetration of solar and wind, along with batteries will push California’s electricity rates ever higher to the point of impoverishing the population and driving any sensible business away.
Scott Tinker made the obvious point of more-of-the-same-is-worse:
… the logic of integrated more of the thing that is causing the duck into the system is somewhat lost on people who understand and have to manage these things. Perhaps additional dispatchable sources like natural gas and nuclear to create reliable electricity would be useful. And also have the benefit of bringing California’s highest in the nation [lower-48] electricity prices down for the consumer. Or, you could continue to follow Europe…
The obvious solution is to stop the wounding and treat the wound. No more wind and solar. And retire existing capacity to allow market signals to bring in combined cycle power plants fueled by either natural gas or fuel oil. Coal-by-wire should also be encouraged. The electricity rate debacle can be solved and Big Brother kept out of the home.
The forced energy transformation crowd continues to be in denial about how badly the California grid has been compromised by wind and solar, how expensive the battery solution is, and the prospect of Big Brother in the home (setting temperatures and restricting power use at will). As Ludwig von Mises observed, the failure of government intervention leads to more and more intervention, posing a choice between free markets and Leviathan.
What’s California without a few blackouts
The last graph on the following page shows California “Imports”. I sort of hope that when that graph shows a negative number, in the middle of the day, that it indicates that power is being exported. At a positive price. South Australia when exporting excess power to Victoria as often as not shows a negative price.
Early adopters of solar and wind such as Texas or California are starting to see alarming signs of saturation even when the total energy production of intermittent sources barely reaches 24% of the total in those areas. Basically the dream of solar and wind is collapsing very quickly as they are only profitable in a low penetration context.
The image below shows the curtailed percentage of annual production curtailed from solar and wind farms in Texas in the last 12 months, ranging from 10 to 30 percent of the total production, and growing year over year.
Another example is the exponential growth of the curtailed percentage in California, an underdeveloped grid that needs to import almost 1/3 of its energy. In this state, the curtailed renewable energy was 0.75% in 2015, 1.1% in 2018, 3.1% in 2021, and skyrocketing to 4.5% in 2022. In the past 12 months, 2.6 TWh were curtailed in California, equivalent to the energy consumed by 300,000 homes in a year. When the amount of curtailed energy grows faster than the installed capacity the signs of saturation are starting to be relevant, showing that the cost of additional solar and wind will be more and more expensive as they won’t be as productive as before and will increase even more the total cost of energy for the end user.
How is this possible in a region such as California with a deficit in energy production? Solar and wind are notorious for failing to generate when they are most needed, and flooding the grid when they are not. For instance, electric car charging peaks at night, when solar energy is absent. And the wind speed drops significantly in summer and winter when electricity demand is highest. The consequence is a daily excess of discarded energy that worsens during the spring and fall seasons. The more renewables, the more curtailment, and lower returns for renewable farm owners but the same high fixed cost for the end user.
While solar and wind receive huge subsidies, the end user pays for the party. Is there any other alternative? Of course, instead of using clean intermittent sources that are destabilizing the grid and making it more expensive for the end user, the use of clean but dispatchable energy sources such as nuclear, geothermal, or hydroelectric have demonstrated they result in lower overall energy cost, lower emissions, lower rate of blackouts, lower waste, and lower impact on the environment.
The dream of a solar and wind grid is collapsing very quickly as they are only profitable in a low penetration context.
Oscar L. Martin