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Joe Steinke's picture
Principal Engineer, WZI Flow Control Ltd.

Principal Engineer, WZI Flow Control LTD, March 2017 – PresentPrincipal Engineer / Senior Valve Doctor,  CCI, IMI Critical Engineering, Jun 1994 – Oct 2016, Rancho Santa Margarita, CAEngineering...

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  • Aug 31, 2020

This may be of interest to those looking to transition to 100% green.  We can expect similar grid performance this weekend in California.  

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Aug 31, 2020

While there are a number of unknowns, I would suggest that the variables above will increase the net electricity can easily double the investment costs need to transition to 100% renewable in California. 

What about getting to 80% or 90% renewable-- how much of the costs are in the huge hurdles to overcome to capture that last 10%? From my understanding, it would be more cost effective to simply not aim for that 100% level and focus not he first 90% or so because the carbon impact would be that immense without getting caught in the trap of trying to plan for those last cases. 

Joe Steinke's picture
Joe Steinke on Aug 31, 2020

Matt - I agree with you that we should approach the task of renewable genertion gradually.  However, that is not how governments are working.  Mandates are being made with specific timelines without a clear plan on how to accomplish those goals.  SB 100 passed in 2002 requires specific time frames and goals.  Reports are due on progress and cost impact every 4 years.  

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Aug 31, 2020

Agreed-- and there's something to be said for aiming for 100% by 2050 or 2040 or whatever it is even if we don't know how technically achievable that would be since it will put greater pressure to make progress in the short term. But haven't we seen that if governments fail to meet those goals that there's typically little resistance to just kicking the can a bit further down the road based on the new information (on tech, on economics, etc.) that's been uncovered in the time since? 

Joe Steinke's picture
Joe Steinke on Sep 1, 2020

Maybe you haven't seen all of the "tipping point", "speed it up", "we have only months..." posts.  Not to be pessimistic, but I think we are going to need to see a couple of disasters before a more detailed review is done.   

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Dec 25, 2020

"Not to be pessimistic, but I think we are going to need to see a couple of disasters before a more detailed review is done."

I take a different view of outages, Joe. They're wonderful learning experiences for Californians who believe the whole state (or country) can be powered by renewables alone.

I notice you've carefully plotted how batteries could store solar electricity during the day, then provide electricity for evening peaks. What will keep lights on during cloudy, windless days?

Also, in two scenarios of potential solutions to California's reliability problems, you anticipate new nuclear could help to provide stability. Several groups here are supporting a petition to FERC for review of the shutdown of Diablo Canyon, a perfectly-functional, modern, well-maintained, safe nuclear plant that PG&E is preparing to plow into the ground in 2025. It cost $11 billion - a cost entirely financed in the rates of the 16 million customers in PG&E's service area, over the last 30 years. If the company expects those customers will accept even higher rates to keep it solvent, it's mistaken - with even talk of the company going into federal receivership.

The state PUC has apparently washed its hands of trying to generate reliability in California, and is looking to import it from Utah, Wyoming and other Western states, of unknown provenance (likely gas and goal):

Imports will also help to export emissions - as if emissions in Wyoming from generating California electricity will stay in Wyoming. As if.

Note the 2GW of imports predicted to fill the gaps left by Diablo Canyon Units 1 & 2 in 2025-2026. If it seems California's CPUC and Governor are hypocritically engineering a fake-green handout to local natural gas interests, that's putting it mildly.


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Thank Joe for the Post!
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