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Teaching the Duck to Fly

07/23/14

  07:22:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 340 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Utilities, Energy Efficiency, Ranting, Energy Storage

Teaching the Duck to Fly

There is a fair amount of talk lately (in nerd circles) about a graph being circulated by the utilities and the California Independent System Operator ( CALISO, the entity that manages the electric grid in the state).  Known as the “Duck graph,” it is being presented as a dire prediction of impending grid instability due to the increasing role of renewable energy sources. But where some see doom and gloom, others see opportunity.  Here’s our take. (H/T John Farrell at REWorld.)

Here’s the graph (credit, CALISO):

Duck graph - predicted energy demand in California

As recently as 2012, this wasn’t a duck at all as net load had two peaks, one in the morning and one late in the evening.

But look at the center of the graph: as more and more renewable sources come online, the demand during the middle of the day falls dramatically, so much so that the utilities are complaining that there will be a risk of “over generation” - producing more energy than is needed and cutting into the baseline production (from power plants like coal and nuclear that need to operate continuously to be efficient.)

Also predicted is a rather steep increase in evening demand between now and 2020.

The net result is a curve shaped much like a duck, apparently a fowl predictor of grid chaos.

Frankly, we look at that graph and see progress and opportunity.  Progress in that renewables, which not so long ago were sneered at as being a, “tiny amount of energy that will never amount to anything serious,” are now completely rewriting the load curve in the nation’s most populous state.  Talk about coming a long way, baby!

The opportunity, of course, is right there as well.  While adding large amounts of smart storage to the grid is an obvious fix for this “problem", as we noted just the other day (see Can Renewables Power the US?), we can handle this evolving energy future in a relatively simple manner—it just requires changing how we approach the problem.  Here’s the video:

We can, and will, teach this Duck to fly. 

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Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
Run on Sun also offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities, and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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