ORIGINAL REPORTING: California’s Strategies For Replacing NatGas With New Energy
As gas plants struggle, California seeks new flexible capacity strategies; With up to 6 GW of gas plants at risk of closure, energy planners are scrambling for new compensation techniques and zero-carbon alternatives
Herman K. Trabish, June 27, 2017 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: California is leading the charge to build a power sector that can do without fossil fuels. But it is not easy.
Accelerating clean energy and climate goals in California have policymakers thinking in unprecedented ways about how to manage the state’s power system. California’s utilities already face a 50% renewable energy mandate to hit by 2030, and now lawmakers are debating even more ambitious targets. But California’s grid operator, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), says the state faces a complicated energy trilemma in reaching its goals: Renewables over-generation, excess natural gas capacity, and a potential shortfall of flexible generation. Policymakers are just beginning to understand how to deal with it.
To reach the state’s goal of a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, Laura Wisland, senior energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), said much of the natural gas generation that provides energy and reliability services will be replaced with non-carbon resources like renewables, energy storage, load shifting, and targeted energy efficiency. Today’s system is much different than Wisland’s vision. Natural gas generation was 53.8% of the CAISO installed power mix in April 2017. Renewables were 29% of the mix, with solar providing 14% of demand and wind 8.5%. CAISO forecasted natural gas generation would serve 61% of the state’s peak demand by 2017’s summer, with 13.7% to come from solar and 2.5% from wind. And Jan Smutny-Jones, CEO of the generator trade group Independent Energy Producers Association, said California must move cautiously to protect system reliability and affordability… click here for more
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