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Past, present, and potential future California adoption methodologies for renewable energy resources

Chase Sun's picture
Principal Engineer (retired) PG&E (retired)

Retired utility engineer.

  • Member since 2021
  • 7 items added with 528 views
  • Sep 22, 2021

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I believe there are a lot of misconceptions about how renewables are used right now and what are the actual benefits.  The current adoption approach is what I would characterize as using renewable energy to reduce GHG generation.  But they are not being used for actual real time grid support.  The actual support is provided by controllable conventional generation resources.  So, at high penetration levels, the renewables need to provide the necessary grid and load support since the controllable generation that are enabling the higher renewable penetration may be forced to retire and no longer be available to provide grid support.   Then, until the renewables can be designed and operated to provide real time support, the grid may go unstable if the conventional resources are retired prematurely.  PV is not available at night and we still have loads at night.  So, until the renewable resources are set up as controllable resources, we may have more and more grid issues.  Electricity is critical to modern life and the US economy depends on it.  We should not muck up the power grid in our attempt to address GHG issues.  Both are important and I believe I presented a method to address GHG issues and grid issues at the same time.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Sep 22, 2021

I find this set of conclusions interesting:

  • Power system needs to operate based on the laws of physics
  • Any engineered system needs to operate within the design parameters until the system has been redesigned/rebuilt.
  • New concepts, such as distributed grid, or novel market design, may need to be piloted/proven for the intended mode of operation before widespread adoption

They're interesting because they seem so obvious, and yet the fact that you find the need to include them mean that they are points you've had to hammer home time and again, which must be frustrating. Why do you think that's been the case? 

Chase Sun's picture
Chase Sun on Sep 30, 2021

Matt:  It is frustrating.  I believe it is this way because some people may not realize how the power system works.  I cannot believe people want to destabilize the grid on purpose.  Some people also appear to believe what they want to believe, regardless of facts.  One of the most frustrating part is when some people push for zero CO2 when human beings and other mammals exhale CO2 with every breath.  So, I do not consider CO2 as being bad.  But we may need to avoid excessive CO2 emission.

Jim Stack's picture
Jim Stack on Sep 24, 2021

Mr Sun, I think we already have the answer to your questions= QUOTE=So, at high penetration levels, the renewables need to provide the necessary grid and load support since the controllable generation that are enabling the higher renewable penetration may be forced to retire and no longer be available to provide grid support..

PS You have the perfect name.

    With the new battery storage on many customers sites we will have real time load control and the customer and Utility can benefit if we have the right tariff. If you give the right payback the solar homes with battery backup will be all over. If not there will be no real time control. 

Chase Sun's picture
Chase Sun on Sep 26, 2021

Jim Stack:  I agree that batteries may be a potential option to enable very high renewable penetration levels.  We need stored energy to ensure that the grid can stay stable.  Both batteries and fossil fuel are stored energy.  But batteries are still pretty expensive.  In fact, DOE has a program to encourage battery development and to reduce battery cost from the current $100+/kWh range to $10/kWh range when it is expected to be cost competitive.  Incentives do cost money.  It is usually funded by either taxes or rates.  It is not clear how much the ratepayers/taxpayers are willing to pay to achieve the 100% renewable objective at this time.

Kent Knutson's picture
Kent Knutson on Sep 27, 2021

Nice post Chase!  The transition needs to be slowed to some degree.  Reliability is absolutely critical.  Your suggestion that we don't know how much ratepayers and taxpayers are willing to pay for a reliable green grid is a great question needing a clear answer.  Chase, thx for posting.     

Chase Sun's picture
Chase Sun on Sep 30, 2021

Kent:  Thanks for the encouragement.  I appreciate it.

Mark Roest's picture
Mark Roest on Sep 28, 2021

Hello Chase Sun,

I am interested in what you see as the current cost of battery storage, resulting in looking to other forms of storage to meet the grid's need for timely delivery of renewable energy when it reaches high levels of penetration.

Do you see a threshold capital and levelized price level at which battery storage could be used for all grid needs for energy storage?

We are aiming for $120/kWh price in quantity, and several thousand cycles. What is the bar?

Chase Sun's picture
Chase Sun on Sep 30, 2021

Mark:  I believe the threshold may depend on where you are and what alternatives there are.  In your case, $120/kWh for a lifecycle of say 3,000 cycles means that you are paying 4 cents/cycle.  So, if your electric energy cost is 4 cents, you need to earn 8 cents to break even.  Battery does not generate energy.  It simply store it for later use.  So, you have a cheap energy source such as subsidized PV, it might work.  Also, some locations may have excessive PV energy and may be happy to pay you to take the excess PV.

Chase Sun's picture
Thank Chase for the Post!
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