Washington Post Climbs the Learning Curve

I’m slowing working my way to an article on whether Joe Biden or Vladimir Putin has done the most damage to the climate campaign, but for now I’ll just take satisfaction that the Washington Post has seemingly discovered the learning curve when it comes to energy. Yesterday the Post noted that, gosh, California has a problem generating enough electricity from its massive deployment of solar power when the sun goes down.

California is awash in renewable energy — except when it’s most needed

The state has built up so much renewable energy production in recent years that it can rarely use it all during peak production hours. But it also doesn’t have enough storage capacity to hang onto it for when it might be needed.

The result is that officials are frequently forced to jettison solar power production while the sun is shining, just hours before customer demand peaks in the late afternoon and evening. The same thing happens to a lesser extent with wind energy — and the issue is surfacing in multiple other states as well.

“It all comes down to this problem of: It’s not how much energy we have, it’s the when and the where the energy is being produced,” said James Bushnell, an economics professor at the University of California at Davis. “Particularly the solar resources — it’s just in the wrong places and at the wrong times.”

This detail from the recent heat wave and tight electricity picture, in which rolling blackouts were just barely avoided, is delicious:

Solar production was booming by midmorning as the sun beat down on hundreds of solar panel plants all over the state. By 10 a.m., the California Independent System Operator, the state’s electric grid manager, was rejecting hundreds of megawatts of solar energy power — unable to use it in the moment, make room for it on the state’s congested power grid or save it for later when consumer demand would peak.

But it’s nothing that a few million tons of batteries can’t solve! Wait until the Post learns about the supply constraints and environmental impact of that. Their learning curve might  twist around into a death spiral.

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