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Richard Brooks's picture
Co-Founder and Lead Software Engineer Reliable Energy Analytics LLC

Inventor of patent 11,374,961: METHODS FOR VERIFICATION OF SOFTWARE OBJECT AUTHENTICITY AND INTEGRITY and the Software Assurance Guardian™ (SAG ™) Point Man™ (SAG-PM™) software and SAGScore™...

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  • Jan 14, 2021
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The final root cause report from the California Blackouts of 2020, is now available online. Any Balancing Authority or Reliability Coordinator that is facing increasing amounts of distributed energy resources, with intermittent performance, should take a serious look at these findings and consider the recommended changes to system planning, resource adequacy and load forecasting to prevent future blackouts.

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jan 14, 2021

The report said that since 2016, the CAISO, CPUC, and CEC have worked to examine the impacts of significant renewable penetration on the grid. By performing modeling that simulates each hour of the day, not just the gross peak, the resource adequacy program “has adjusted for this change in resource mix by identifying reliability problems now seen later in the day” during the net demand peak. However, the report said that additional work is needed to ensure that sufficient resources are available to serve load during the net peak period and other potential periods of system strain.

Important report to ensure the lazy narrative of 'see, renewables simply can't work' doesn't falsely persist. 

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jan 14, 2021

Matt, you have it exactly backwards. The lazy, false narrative is one that shifts the burden of proof, that requires proving a negative - that renewables can't work, absent any evidence they can.

Nowhere in the world has a regional, municipal, or local electrical grid  been powered by solar, wind, and batteries - anywhere (to my knowledge, not has a single home). Germany's failure to meet its 2020 emissions target is powerful evidence of what many of us have believed for decades: an electrical grid powered by solar, wind, and batteries remains a hopeless fantasy, one uncomfortably at odds with physics, and too comfortably aligned with continued reliance on fossil fuel.

Here, CAISO choreographs an elaborate tap-dance around the fundamental truth solar and wind are unreliable, and will always be, and that not with batteries, more planning, load forecasting, preliminary reports, and final reports, will that ever change.

So we begin 2021 with a question: will the Biden administration resort to the same litany of lies to enrich natural gas interests at the expense of progress on climate change? I don't know, but I'll prefer to believe the era of alternative facts has finally come to an end. I'll believe the representatives who told us yesterday, one after another, that enough is enough. 

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Jan 16, 2021

Right Matt, there are many "lazy narratives" circulating in the clean energy community.  One conflates the nature of variable renewable electricity with the kind we buy.  As electricity consumers, we desire and buy not only energy, but dispatchable (on-demand) energy. 

Advocates often point to low levelized cost of solar and wind power, but this metric ignores the cost of upgrading variable renewable energy to dispatchable energy.  Dispatchability comes almost free with fossil fuel energy, but is a cost adder for renewables.  False narratives proliferate around the issue since the extra costs for upgrading renewable energy can be hidden off-the-books in many cases (i.e. terms like integration costs, resource adequacy, capacity payments, and profile costs).

This false narrative is exemplified when companies claim (always falsely) to be 100% renewably powered.  Often this claim is made by companies that buy renewable energy credits.  Of course the credits are produced on sunny/windy days, and the company uses them to offset electricity consumed day or night, in calm or breezy air.  Of course they don't store the clean energy for use when none is available, nor do they throttle their dispatchable loads to match clean energy availability.

The most appalling example of this is "green hydrogen".  Conventional hydrogen is produced from fossil gas with 70% efficiency.  Green hydrogen is also produced mostly from fossil gas, but the efficiency is 30% because it includes an intermediate conversion to electricity, and it also requires the application of renewable energy credits to "offset the electricity used". 

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