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California's three investor-owned utilities have released the results of a study called for by the California Public Utilities Commission to assess the “effective load carrying capability” of various energy technologies. The study explored the extent to which a wind or solar plant's total theoretical capacity can be counted on when the grid needs it most, Bloomberg reported.
The results are astounding and important for California's future electricity balance, as well as the future of any grid targeting 100% carbon-free electricity by 2035.
The study determined that industrial-scale solar installations are close to useless at managing electrical load when the risk of blackouts is highest, and it gets even worse at residential-scale, with an effective load carrying capability of just 4% in 2022. But, if you add four hours of energy storage, then the possibilities of solar energy change dramatically.
A solar project with four hours of energy storage will have an effective carrying capacity of 99.8% in 2022 —essentially a total ability to ensure the grid remains reliably supplied with power.
According to a California study, solar power is best for charging a battery so it is ready when needed. Research also shows that the wind is not as constant and therefore not as reliable as the sun.
The data shows that if solar-plus-storage becomes predictable and highly reliable it is likely to change the demand for a peak gas installation. Solar power with four hours of storage will compete with existing peak power plants, which will call into question the economic rationale for building more.
On July 21, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and Tesla began construction of a 182.5MW lithium-ion battery energy storage system (BESS) at PG & E’s electric substation in Moss Landing in Monterey County. The goal of PG&E is to launch the system in early 2021 and have it fully operational in the second quarter of 2021. Upon commissioning, the Moss Landing substation system will become one of the world's largest lithium-ion battery energy storage systems.
Tesla's large batteries make for perfect energy storage facilities. This has already been proven in several projects around the world, including the Hornsdale Power Reserve in Australia. Battery energy storage plays an integral role in enhancing overall electric grid efficiency and reliability, integrating renewable resources while reducing reliance on fossil fuel generation. It can also serve as an alternative to more expensive, traditional wires solutions, resulting in lower overall costs.
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About the Author
Eva Fox joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover breaking news as an automotive journalist. The main topics that she covers are clean energy and electric vehicles. As a journalist, Eva is specialized in Tesla and topics related to the work and development of the company.