Graph of the Day: Sun rises in California’s energy market

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The California energy market operator has a fantastic new graphic display that tracks the daily (and hourly) contribution of wind, solar and other renewables to the state’s electricity market, which we are highlighting as today’s graph of the day.

The data is hosted by the Independent System Operator (ISO), whose motto is “shaping a renewed future” (an idea, perhaps, for the AEMO), and is providing important data as the state ramps up its renewables target from its current levels of around 20 per cent to 33 per cent by 2020.

This graph of the day below is the latest provided by the ISO’s Daily Renewables Watch, and the second graph is a random one from December. Both are notable for the inclusion of solar thermal, and the ability of new storage technology in extending the solar thermal output into the evening hours will be interesting to watch – as will the results in the northern summer months to come.

(Most of the solar in the Californian electricity market comes from utility scale installations – which is why they are visible on the market operator’s calculations. Most of Australia’s solar generation comes from rooftop solar, so is more or less invisible to the grid operator, except as negative demand).

People can scan the various days’ output on the ISO site – some times a lot of wind, some times a lot of solar, some times a lot of both, or not a lot of either, and their relationship with demand flows to help prosecute whichever argument they want to make about renewables.

But the mix of biomass, geothermal, hydro and wind and solar presents an interesting graph. When they get to 33 per cent – and more storage is brought on line – it will be fascinating to see how it impacts on the peaks and on other generation – fossil fuel and imports.

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