40% of California Grid Power from Solar, Sometimes Costs less than Nothing

by Juan Cole Juan R. I. Cole is Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. For three decades, he has sought to put the relationship of the West and the Muslim world in historical context. His most recent book is Engaging the Muslim World (Palgrave Macmillan, March, 2009) and he also recently authored Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007) and many other works. He has translated works of Lebanese-American author Kahlil Gibran. He has been a regular guest on PBS's Lehrer News Hour, and has also appeared on ABC Nightly News, Nightline, the Today Show, Charlie Rose, Anderson Cooper 360, Rachel Maddow, the Colbert Report, Democracy Now! and many others. He has given many radio and press interviews. He has written widely about Egypt, Iran, Iraq, and South Asia. He has commented extensively on al-Qaeda and the Taliban, the Iraq War, the politics of Pakistan and Afghanistan, Iranian domestic struggles, the Arab Spring and its aftermath, and foreign affairs. He has a regular column at Salon.com. He continues to study and write about contemporary Islamic movements, whether mainstream or radical, whether Sunni and Salafi or Shi`ite. Cole commands Arabic, Persian and Urdu and reads some Turkish, knows both Middle Eastern and South Asian Islam. He lived in various parts of the Muslim world for nearly 10 years, and continues to travel widely there. 15.04.2017

For the first time, on the day of March 23, 40% of Californian grid power between 11 am and 2 pm was generated by utility-scale solar plants.

This proportion was a seasonal effect but not a fluke, and it certainly points to what will be routine in the very near future.

California has so much solar power now that sometimes the price of electricity turns negative. Natural gas plant owners actually have to pay the state to take their electricity when that happens. But they make up for it during high-demand periods.

The negative prices were not passed on to consumers because they get charged for the whole mix, and California electricity rates are among the highest in the country.

If you count in the electricity generated by rooftop solar panels, then on that day at that time, California was actually getting fifty percent of its electricity from solar.

This level of solar electricity generation is new in California. During the past year, there has been a 50% increase in utility-scale solar generation.

California now has nearly 10 gigawatts of solar power. That is more than the entire country of Britain. It is more than the entire country of France. Even more than the entire country of India.

If you looked at all the electricity generated in California on the day of March 23, you’d find that 56.7 percent of it was generated by renewewables– in addition to solar there are wind turbines, hydroelectric from dams, geothermal and biomass.

Jobs in solar energy in California expanded by 67% year on year.

California wants a third of its grid energy to come from renewables in only 3 years, in 2020. It wants the proportion to rise to 50% by 2030.


For Juan Cole's web site, please click here.


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