Tag Archives: Solar Power

Drought Is Killing California’s Hydroelectric Power. Can Solar Make Up The Difference?

By Steve Scauzillo, San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Snowmelt entering Big Creek’s hydroelectric powerhouses has slowed to a trickle. Reservoirs sit at their lowest levels ever.

The 102-year-old central-California complex owned and operated by Southern California Edison lost 80 percent of its hydroelectric power this year, a direct result of a persistent drought that has wiped clean the Sierra Nevada snowpack and produced an eerie silence inside Big Creek’s 27 damns and nine powerhouses.

“This is definitely the worst I’ve ever seen,” said Andrew McMillan, operations manager for Edison’s massive hydro plant, a historic project situated between Yosemite and King’s Canyon financed by Henry Huntington in 1913 to send power to his Pacific Electric Red Cars.

Knowing droughts can hang around for years, even decades, Edison managed the water to keep some generators humming during peak summer demand, McMillan said. SCE then added new solar and wind power to replace the 800 megawatts of hydroelectric evaporated by the drought, said Colin Cushnie, SCE’s vice president of energy procurement and management.

Statewide, the pattern is repeated, only on a grander scale. The California Independent Systems Operator, which monitors 80 percent of the state electric grid, says California is approaching the largest reduction in hydroelectricity in 10 years.

Read full article in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Here’s what it would take for the US to run on 100% renewable energy

By David Roberts, Vox 

It is technically and economically feasible to run the US economy entirely on renewable energy, and to do so by 2050. That is the conclusion of a new study in the journal Energy & Environmental Science, authored by Stanford scholar Mark Z. Jacobson and nine colleagues.

His team’s new paper contains 50 such road maps, one for every state, with detailed modeling on how to get to a US energy system entirely powered by wind, water, and solar (WWS). That means no oil and coal. It also means no natural gas, no nuclear power, no carbon capture and sequestration, and no biofuels. The core of the plan is to electrify everything, including sectors that currently run partially or entirely on liquid fossil fuels. That means shifting transportation, heating/cooling, and industry to run on renewable electric power. The roadmaps show how to meet each state’s new power demands using only the renewable energies – wind, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, and tiny amounts of tidal and wave – available to each state.

The road maps show how each individual state, from California to New York, can achieve an 80 percent transition by 2030, and a full conversion by 2050. The result is a substantial savings relative to the status quo baseline, in terms of energy costs, health costs, and climate costs alike. The resulting land footprint of energy is manageable, grid reliability is maintained, and more jobs will be created in renewables than destroyed in fossil fuels.

An interactive map summarizing the plans for each state is available at thesolutionsproject.org.

  • View the plan for California (PDF)

Read full article from Vox

Solar additions of over 2 GW to help California meet summer demand

By Tsvetomira Tsanova, SeeNews Renewables

California has enough electricity supplies to meet peak demand this summer thanks to the addition of over 2 GW of solar power capacity, stable imports and only moderate peak demand growth. An analysis by the California Independent System Operator Corp (CAISO) has shown that supplies will be enough even under an extreme scenario of hot temperatures.

The CAISO said that since the summer of 2014, 2,328 MW of new power capacity has been hooked to the grid. Solar accounts for 96% of that. All in all, the capacity of all solar and wind parks connected to the Californian grid amounts to 6,700 MW and 6,100 MW, respectively.

Read full article from SeeNews Renewables

Forget Desert Solar Farms: We Can Get More Than Enough Solar Energy From Cities

By Adele Peters, Fast Co.Exist

Solar plants keep getting bigger: The new Topaz Solar Farm, in a remote part of southern California, sprawls over an area about a third of the size of Manhattan. In February, another solar farm of roughly the same size—with 9 million solar panels—opened in the Mojave Desert. Later this year, an even larger project will open in Antelope Valley.

Together, the three new projects will provide enough power for over half a million homes. But there’s a downside: They’re all in former open spaces that once provided habitat for wildlife, and because they’re in remote areas, some of the energy they produce gets lost along the way to consumers.

A new study in Nature Climate Change says that plants like these actually aren’t necessary: We can get more than enough solar power by building in cities instead. The study looks at California, because the state is aggressively increasing renewable energy, and finds that by using land that’s already developed, like rooftops and parking lots, solar power could provide the state with three to five times as much energy as it uses.

The study maps out developed areas that are best suited for either photovoltaic panels or concentrated solar power (CSP); California has an area about the size of Massachusetts that is well-suited for PV panels, and an area about the size of Delaware that is a good match for CSP. If these spaces were fully plastered with solar tech, they could provide over 20,000 terawatt-hours of power every year.

Read full article from Fast Company

5 of the World’s Biggest Solar Energy Plants

By Hailey Robinson, Tech.co

In March 2015, the United Nations Energy Programme (UNEP) released a report on the state of renewable energy. The findings were encouraging for supporters of alternative energy; in 2014, renewables generated over 9 percent of the word’s energy, up nearly a percentage point from 2013. Investors are taking notice of the success of new renewable plants, with investment up 17 percent in 2014 to nearly $270 billion. Solar is becoming the most desirable option for securing power in developing countries. Advances in technology caused solar energy costs to drop nearly 75 percent between 2009 and 2014, making it very attractive for governments looking for reliable and inexpensive ways to drive development.

For those interested in who is producing the most solar energy world-wide, here are the largest solar energy plants either under construction or currently operational (see article for full list).

  • Ivanpah: The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is a sprawling facility located in California’s Mojave Desert. Ivanpah went live in February 2014, and with its 392 megawatt capacity, it is currently the world’s largest solar electricity facility. Covering a vast 4,000 acres near the California-Nevada border, the system uses nearly 175,000 dual-mirror heliostats that focus solar energy to three central solar power towers. As of November 2014, the plant was only generating about half of its expected capacity, however.
  • Solar Energy Generating Systems (SEGS): The second-largest operational system in the world is also in the Mojave Desert; Solar Energy Generating Systems (SEGS) have a capacity of 354 megawatts. The SEGS power plants were commissioned in 1984 and completed in 1991. They are located in Daggett, Kramer Junction, and Harper Lake, California.

Read full article from Tech.co