Rising solar era in California coincides with disastrous indiscriminate electricity prices

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On Mar 11, utility-scale solar era in a domain of a California Independent System Operator (CAISO) accounted for roughly 40% of net grid energy constructed during a hours of 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. This is a initial time CAISO has achieved these levels, reflecting an roughly 50% expansion in utility-scale solar photovoltaic commissioned ability in 2016. The vast and flourishing volume of solar era has spasmodic driven energy prices on a CAISO energy sell during late winter and early open illumination hours to really low, and infrequently negative, prices. However, consumers in California continue to compensate normal sell electricity prices that are among a top in a nation.

Image credit: U.S. Energy Information Administration

Utility-scale solar era includes solar photovoltaic (PV) systems as good as a few solar thermal plants. Additional era from customer-sited solar generators commissioned in California (such as those on residential and blurb rooftops) serve adds to a sum solar share of mid-day electricity generation, while displacing approach for energy from a grid. As of Dec 2016, utilities in CAISO reported 5.4 gigawatts (GW) of net-metered distributed solar capacity. (EIA reports commissioned electric ability information in swapping stream terms, that are typically 10% to 30% reduce than a approach stream capacities infrequently reported for PV systems.) EIA estimates that this ability would have generated approximately 4 million kilowatthours (kWh) during a rise solar hours on Mar 11. This turn of electricity reduced a metered approach on a grid by about a same amount, suggesting that a sum solar share of sum approach almost exceeded 50% during a mid-day hours.

Total solar ability in California (including both distributed and utility-scale systems) has grown from reduction than 1 GW in 2007 to scarcely 14 GW by a finish of 2016. Solar era follows daily and anniversary object patterns, peaking during a prolonged summer days and reaching a annual smallest during a winter.

Electricity approach in California also tends to rise during a summer months. However, in late winter and early spring, approach is during a annual minimum, though solar output, while not during a highest, is augmenting as a days grow longer and a object gets aloft in a sky. Although a object is during a identical angle in Sep and October, electricity approach is still comparatively high, heading to reduce solar era shares than seen in March.

Consequently, energy prices on both a day-ahead and real-time CAISO markets were almost reduce in Mar compared with other times of a year or even Mar of final year. In March, during a hours of 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., complement normal hourly prices were frequently during or next $0 per megawatthour (MWh). In contrast, normal hourly prices in Mar 2013–15 during this time of day ranged from $14/MWh to $45/MWh. Negative prices customarily outcome when generators with high shut-down or restart costs contingency contest with other generators to equivocate handling next apparatus smallest ratings or shutting down completely.

Large cost spikes immediately before and after mid-day durations when both utility-scale and distributed solar era reaches a rise turn advise a need for dispatchable era sources to assistance cover ramping periods, when a need for energy from a grid to accommodate bucket is fast changing. Beyond solar output, a brew of era on a complement also affects prices. Notably, above-average sleet and layer this winter in California has upheld high levels of hydropower era that might also be contributing to new pricing patterns.

California grid operators have been endangered over a effects of a boost in solar era on complement operations for several years. The era and pricing patterns that occurred in Mar and that might continue by a open prominence some of a issues California grid operators will face in integrating vast amounts of solar into their energy markets.

Source: EIA

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