In California, where reliance on solar power is favored over the idea of nuclear power, many Californians suffering through an intense heat wave over the last weekend lost power because of rolling blackouts. That loss of power was at least partially derived from one single fact:
The sun sets at night.
Jon Sexton of HotAir explains:
California’s energy grid is run by an organization called California Independent System Operator or Cal ISO. Cal ISO’s job is to turn various supplies of energy on or off and, if necessary, seek out energy from out of state to meet the demand for electricity in the state. On Friday and again Saturday Cal ISO simply couldn’t find enough supply to meet the demand so it called for a stage 3 emergency and ordered energy companies to simply turn off power to some customers to prevent the grid from flickering on and off for everyone. So the blackout wasn’t a surprise or the result of an equipment failure. It was an emergency response to a lack of supply.
Sexton noted that the state knew a heat wave was imminent, asking why they couldn’t prepare for such an eventuality. He quoted NPR:
As temperatures crept above 110 degrees in some parts of the state over the last week, California ISO knew the end of each day would be the toughest. When the sun sets, the state’s fleet of solar farms turn off. With the state’s growing clean energy mandates, renewables have become a significant source of energy, reaching up to 80 percent of the supply during the day.
The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board added on Wednesday:
California’s Independent System Operator (Caiso) has been warning for years that the state’s increasing dependence on intermittent renewables, especially solar, is making it harder to ensure reliable power. Renewables currently make up about 36% of California’s electric generation, and Democrats have set a 60% mandate for 2030 and 100% for 2045.
Dozens of natural-gas plants that can ramp up power on demand have closed since 2013—enough to supply about four million households—so California is relying more on energy imported from other states when needed. In normal times it imports about 15% of its energy. But the Golden State’s neighbors are also experiencing heat waves, and many have also been replacing fossil fuels with renewables too…
Sexton noted, “California was able to meet that demand for most of the day Friday and Saturday but several reports note that, because it was cloudy during the day, solar generation was off a bit and as the sun began to set solar sources cut out.”
The World Nuclear Association pointed out in September 2018:
In August 2018 the state assembly voted to produce 60% of electricity from renewables by 2030 and produce all the state’s electricity without fossil fuels by 2045. At present, just under half is supplied by natural gas. This target supersedes an earlier one to produce 50% of electricity from renewables by 2030. Apart from in-state generation, about one-third of the power consumed in California is imported, but the new measure would eliminate imports that are not carbon-neutral by 2045. The state has set a goal of reducing its carbon dioxide emissions by 80% of 1990 levels by 2050, as required by its Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 and a 2005 executive order.