Sammy Roth, LOS ANGELES TIMES
Something remarkable happened over the weekend: California hit nearly 95% renewable energy.
I’ll say it again: 95% renewables. For all the time we spend talking about how to reach 100% clean power, it sometimes seems like a faraway proposition, whether the timeframe is California’s 2045 target or President Biden’s more aggressive 2035 goal. But on Saturday just before 2:30 p.m., one of the world’s largest economies came within a stone’s throw of getting there.
There are several caveats. For one thing, Saturday’s 94.5% figure — a record, as confirmed to me by the California Independent System Operator — was fleeting, lasting just four seconds. It was specific to the state’s main power grid, which covers four-fifths of California but doesn’t include Los Angeles, Sacramento and several other regions. It came at a time of year defined by abundant sunshine and relatively cool weather, meaning it’s easier for renewable power to do the job traditionally done by fossil fuels.
And fossil fuels actually were doing part of the job — more than the 94.5% figure might suggest. California was producing enough clean power to supply nearly 95% of its in-state needs, but it was also burning a bunch of natural gas and exporting electricity to its Western neighbors. It’s impossible to say exactly how much of the Golden State’s own supply was coming from renewables.
That said, what happened on Saturday is definitely a big deal.
“It sends chills down my spine. It’s amazing,” said Elliot Mainzer, president and CEO of the California Independent System Operator, which runs the state’s main power grid. “These types of transitions aren’t always pretty. But we’re getting a lot of renewable generation online, making a real dent in the state’s carbon emissions.”
Read more at https://www.latimes.com/environment/newsletter/2021-04-29/solar-power-water-canals-california-climate-change-boiling-point?utm_id=28229&sfmc_id=3422102
Ivan Penn, THE NEW YORK TIMES
When demand exceeded supply in a recent heat wave, electricity stored at businesses and even homes was called into service. With proper management, batteries could have made up for an offline gas plant.
Last month as a heat wave slammed California, state regulators sent an email to a group of energy executives pleading for help. “Please consider this an urgent inquiry on behalf of the state,” the message said.
The manager of the state’s grid was struggling to increase the supply of electricity because power plants had unexpectedly shut down and demand was surging. The imbalance was forcing officials to order rolling blackouts across the state for the first time in nearly two decades.
What was unusual about the emails was whom they were sent to: people who managed thousands of batteries installed at utilities, businesses, government facilities and even homes. California officials were seeking the energy stored in those machines to help bail out a poorly managed grid and reduce the need for blackouts.
Many energy experts have predicted that batteries could turn homes and businesses into mini-power plants that are able to play a critical role in the electricity system. They could soak up excess power from solar panels and wind turbines and provide electricity in the evenings when the sun went down or after wildfires and hurricanes, which have grown more devastating because of climate change. Over the next decade, the argument went, large rows of batteries owned by utilities could start replacing power plants fueled by natural gas.
But that day appears to be closer than earlier thought, at least in California, which leads the country in energy storage. During the state’s recent electricity crisis, more than 30,000 batteries supplied as much power as a midsize natural gas plant. And experts say the machines, which range in size from large wall-mounted televisions to shipping containers, will become even more important because utilities, businesses and homeowners are investing billions of dollars in such devices.
Read more at https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/03/business/energy-environment/california-electricity-blackout-battery.html
THE STAR ONLINE
Technology is often touted as a solution to the world’s environmental challenges, but it is also part of the problem: industry executives are facing rising pressure to clean up their energy and resource-intensive business.
How much energy, for example, does it take to send a one-megabyte email?
Around 25 watts per hour, representing 20g of carbon dioxide emissions, according to France’s CNRS research centre.
It might not seem like much, but the Radicati research group expects 293 billion emails will be sent every single day this year and the power needs to be generated – mostly from fossil fuels.
Apps can quickly drain and shorten the life of phone batteries, with Snapchat a particularly “heavy” messaging service because it automatically turns on the camera.
Then there are the server farms crunching mammoth amounts of data worldwide, which require huge amounts of electricity both to run and to power air conditioning which keeps the equipment from getting too hot.
“Under the current global energy mix, the share of greenhouse gas emissions from information and communication technologies will rise from 2.5% in 2013 to four percent in 2020,” the French think-tank Shift Project said in a recent report.
That makes the sector more carbon-intensive than civil aviation (a 2% share of emissions in 2018) and on track to reach automobiles (8%), it said.
Read more at https://www.thestar.com.my/tech/tech-news/2019/05/22/dirty-data-firms-count-environmental-costs-of-digital-planet/
Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A normally quiet east Santa Rosa street has been turned into a noisy power station to meet the growing power demand by large, air-conditioned homes and new development that threatened to overwhelm the area’s power grid.
Pacific Gas and & Electric set up a series of mobile power generators on Great Heron Drive in the Skyhawk neighborhood last week after power went out to 109 customers in the area Aug. 31, PG&E spokeswoman Deanna Contreras said.
Worried by a forecast that called for triple-digit temperatures over the Labor Day weekend, the utility wanted to make sure it could keep the lights and air conditioners on in the area, she said. The mercury ended up hitting a new record of 110 degrees in Santa Rosa last Saturday.
The neighborhood of mostly larger single-family homes built in the 1980s and 1990s had an undersized electric infrastructure that was stressed when people turned on their central air conditioners.
Read more at: PG&E installs temporary substation on Santa Rosa street | The Press Democrat –
California ISO – See graphs for electricity supply and demand, renewable energy production and more: http://www.caiso.com/Pages/TodaysOutlook.aspx
The operator of California’s power grid has issued a so-called Flex Alert calling for voluntary electricity conservation between 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, the expected peak of the current heat wave.
The California Independent System Operator says consumers shouldn’t use major appliances during those hours and should set air conditioners to 78 degrees or higher and turn off unnecessary lights to ease strain on the grid.
The forecast peak electricity usage is expected to exceed 47,000 megawatts each day.
Source: California grid operator calls for voluntary conservation | The Press Democrat