From the EIA…..
The contribution towards total generation from eligible renewable resources also varies seasonally. For the dates charted above, the amount of renewable generation as a percentage of the total generation within the CAISO ranges from 8% on Oct 18, 2011 to 14% on May 9, 2011.
California is trying to achieve a 33% Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) by 2020, with eligible resources that include wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, biogas, and “small hydro”, which translates roughly as generators under 30 MW.
Now imagine what is necessary for the 33%. 4 X’s the backup generation capacity must be built to facilitate this bit of insanity. Built, maintained, and idling energy must be wasted for this Quixotic pursuit. And, of course, all of that backup generation must be natural gas……. for you earth-day birthday types…… have a good fracking day. But, even that isn’t the whole story. Because the 8%-14% is a cumulative figure for the days. On only a 4 day sample, we see the output peaks at about 4 gigawatts and ebbs at 1.75 gigawatts. which, ironically, occurs during the same time of the day! 1:00 A.M.! Below is a graph of Boston’s typical electrical usage. I borrowed it from here. While Boston is a unique place, their electrical consumption isn’t. This is typical of most places. We see in the early morning hours demand is low. This is typically referred to as base load. As people begin to rise and shine, we see demand increase. There is a slight drop off as people head home from work and school and whatnot. Then there is an incline during the hours of between 6 and 8 o’clock. It is more noticeable during a hot summer day. People go home, start laundry, supper, …. they turn on the TV, and AC or heater depending upon the seasons…… as people turn in for the evening, demand goes down. Now, using the output in the graphs above, predict what plants you need to keep spinning to maintain this curve. As much energy created by the sun catchers and whirly gigs will be wasted in anticipation of need.
Well, at least the blackouts and extra costs will happen to the people which helped cause this insanity. I do feel sorry for the folks like AAM though…….