New legislation woven into California’s building code has mandated that nearly all new homes have solar, starting in January of 2020. The new building mandates are designed to help California meet green energy goals, which aim for 50% of all energy being used in California to come from a renewable source in 2030 and 100% by 2045. This building code is exciting for the state in terms of becoming a greener state but has created many raised-eyebrows when it comes to the current state utility electricity grid. This article will briefly discuss what we can expect come 2020 and our power grid.
The Duck Curve
Currently, the state of California is flooded with so much solar power that many of other sun-fueled energy plants must be turned off during the day – or excess green energy has to be shipped to neighboring states. Broken down, this means that within the state, there is an excessive amount of solar energy being produced. But, there is not quite enough space within the grid to store it until people want to use it. This is what utility grid experts call the “Duck Curve.” This curve is created when net power demands over the spectrum of the entire grid craters during daylight hours and then ramps up after the sunset and natural-gas generators fire up to meet customer need.
What this means is that the state has done a great job incentivizing green energy and solar options for homeowners, but there is no way that with current electrical dependence and the ‘duck curve’ there is enough electricity stored in the grid to keep homes with energy after the sun goes down. Utility regulators explain that for goals to be met, people will need to generate more of their own power or continue their dependency on getting energy from major utility suppliers.
A Potentially Temporary Problem
Utility regulators cannot deny that current infrastructure in California utilities is not quite ready for the 2020 solar mandate. The new homes are predicted to add as much as 260 megawatts of annual solar power in the state, which is equivalent to about 1 solar farm. However, even with the new great influx in solar power that is being generated, the current overproduction of usable energy during daylight hours will still mean that neighboring states will benefit from our solar power more than we will. As there are no grid upgrade plans to provide for more solar energy storage in the grid, this means as we continue to make more green energy – our greenhouse emissions will not be reduced, but our neighboring states may see the benefit. On a global level of energy -there is a win. However, in California, it means our legislation will support the creation of renewable, green energy, but there is nothing written that will decrease our dependence on gas, or other natural gases to power our homes and businesses once the sun goes down.
A Necessary Solution
A necessary solution is an increase in storage and more sophisticated demand-response technologies and programs. This will balance the intermittent supplies from solar farms and over-generation with peak demand periods. With the rise in demand for solar panel installation should also come with the demand for more batteries to be installed with the solar systems. This means that less energy would have to be stored on the grid and energy that is produced will be readily accessible for the homeowners who have their own battery systems installed. The 2020 building code mandate does answer to this increase in demand. However, as the solar panels are a mandate, the installation of solar storage solutions on homes is a mere suggestion.
What is clear is that the current “Duck Curve” is a reality that will only become more pronounced with time. As more homes are built with solar panels installed, it is vitally important that solar installation companies and solar customers reach out and learn about how a solar battery system could benefit them and their overall energy usage. Plus, consumers should also keep an eye out for more discussion of solar batteries. As more and more homes have solar, the demand for solar storage is going to increase.
If you currently have a commercial or residential solar system installed on your home, reach out to us and learn how a solar battery could help your energy usage and offset your dependence on peak-demand energy. Plus, the 30% tax incentive -which expires at the end of 2019-also encompasses solar battery storage systems. Now is an ideal time to install a battery. Set up and appointment with our team to schedule your battery installation.
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