The sweeping blackouts that struck California last summer are a fair indication of what happens when sound engineering gets trumped by woolly-headed ideology. An obsession with intermittent wind and solar left millions of Californians sweltering in the dark, and wind and solar spin doctors working overtime to shift the blame.

The state-wide blackout that struck in mid-August, was put down by officials to an “unexpected loss of a 470-megawatt power plant Saturday evening, as well as the loss of nearly 1,000 megawatts of wind power,” the San Jose Mercury News reported. In addition, cloud cover over the desert meant solar energy was in short supply. For more see: Renewable Energy Reckoning: Wind & Solar Power Obsession Leaves Millions of Californians Sweltering In The Dark 

California’s self-inflicted renewable energy debacle has attracted global attention. Policymakers have led with their chins by promoting chaotically intermittent wind and solar, all the while trashing ever-reliable nuclear power – with perfectly predictable results.

In its recently released report on the RE induced blackouts, California’s Independent System Operator (CAISO) appears to blame sunset and people’s selfish demands for air-conditioning during heatwave conditions:

Solar generation in particular shifts “utility peaks to a later hour as a significant part of load at traditional peak hours (late afternoon) is served by solar generation, with generation dropping off quickly as the evening hours approach.” Furthermore, as the sun sets, demand previously served by behind-the-meter solar generation is coming back to the CAISO system while load remains high. Consequently, on hot days, load later in the day may still be high, after the gross peak has passed, because of air conditioning demand and other load that was being served by behind-the-meter solar coming back on the system. As a result of declining behind-the-meter and front-of-meter (utility scale) generation in the late afternoon, after the peak demand hour of the day, demand is decreasing at a slower rate than net demand is increasing, which creates higher risk of shortages around 7 p.m., when the net demand reaches the peak (net demand peak).

So, Californians, when the sun sets it’s time to shut down your ACs and swelter.

After the blackout debacle, CAISO was forced to reconsider its modelling on what to expect from wind and solar and:

reduced the amount of qualifying capacity these resources receive by approximately 80% (that is, a solar or wind resource that can produce 100 MW at the maximum output level is assumed to produce only about 20 MW …)

Here’s what the report had to say about the wind and solar output collapses on 15 August:

Between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., solar declined by more than 1,900 MW caused by storm clouds, while loads were still increasing and contingency reserves were down to minimal WECC requirements. See Figure 3.5 below

Between 5:12 p.m. and 6:12 p.m., wind generation declined by 1,200 MW. (Figure 3.5
below).

So, just when California needed it most, 3,100MW worth of wonderful wind and solar simply vanished.

Now, Nathan Solis – the author of the breathless and confusing piece below – is clearly worried about the weather. However, if he thinks that California’s scorching summers are going to be cured by more chaotically intermittent wind and solar, he’s in for a very rude shock. Moreover, the next time his home State swelters, Nathan and his fellow weather-worriers can expect to spend a whole lot more time sweating it out in the dark.

Report Explains Why California Power Grid Couldn’t Take the Heat in 2020
Courthouse News
Nathan Solis
13 January 2021

Hundreds of thousands of Californians sat in the dark last summer during the hottest August on record. The scorching heat lingered for days and taxed the state’s power grid, bringing some of the first rotating power outages in nearly two decades.

report released Wednesday drives home the fact that climate change has impacted the very way California draws its energy. The extreme heat wave gripped the entire western United States and did not let go for weeks.

The crisis came to a tipping point in mid-August and the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) — the agency that monitors the state’s power grid — instituted two power outages starting Aug. 14. The outages left large swaths of the state without power for several hours at a time.

The report said there was no one cause for the power grid being overtaxed, but three factors came together to form a perfect storm that sparked the energy crisis.

Front and center was the climate change-induced extreme heat wave.

Looking back, 2020 saw the hottest August on record in California and by the middle of the month, the heatwave brought temperatures 10-20 degrees above normal to 32 million Californians. That was followed by the hottest September on record for the entire world.

While the Mojave Desert’s Death Valley reached 129 degrees in late August 2020, other parts of the state sweltered just the same. Even Woodland Hills in Los Angeles County reached 121 degrees by September.

The second factor is somewhat of a coincidence, because CAISO says “reliable, clean, and affordable” energy sources are to blame.

Those renewable energies have not kept pace to meet the demand for energy consumption in California — especially in the evening hours. The power generated by solar and wind power begins to teeter off in the late afternoon at a faster rate than the demand decreases, according to the report.

“This is because air conditioning and other load previously being served by solar comes back on the bulk electric system,” the report stated.

In essence, all those air conditioners powered by renewable energy sources are suddenly thrown onto the bulk electric system grid in the evening.

State agencies responsible for delivering and monitoring power to Californians, including CAISO, the California Public Utilities Commission and California Energy Commission, are familiar with the concept of renewable energy suddenly penetrating the grid.

The agencies have studied this peak usage scenario since 2016, but CAISO admits that there is still more work to be done to understand what to do when the system is under strain.

The third factor that contributed to the 2020 power outages in California is a bit of an inside baseball issue and has to do with the energy market. CAISO explained that market practices contributed to the blunder that shortchanged the state’s electrical grid.

This includes under-scheduling demand or underestimating the amount of power needed thanks to the financial energy trading used to price energy.

CAISO’s forecast was unable to notice that it was underestimating demand and when they figured it out, it was too late to respond.

Hence the blackouts that took place last summer.

The heatwave caught California’s energy grid off guard, but the report said the agencies are updating how they will deliver power to the state’s nearly 40 million residents.

“The acceleration of climate change demands we enhance our planning efforts and market practices at a faster pace and with broader anticipation for what is possible,” said CPUC President Marybel Batjer in a statement.

CAISO President and CEO Elliot Mainzer said the report released Wednesday provides “important insights and lessons” about all those factors that left so many in the dark. In a statement, he said all the state agencies will be working together to plan and secure more energy and modernize the state’s framework.
Courthouse News

Hey, Nathan, here’s how you modernise your power grid.

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February 3, 2021 at 12:31AM