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California’s Solar Supply Exceeds Demand


By Greg Zimmerman Energy Efficiency
California solar

File this one under “good problems to have”: California has too much solar power, and is scrambling to figure out how not to waste it. What’s more, a surplus of solar power can help keep electricity rates low, according to a story in the Los Angeles Times. As facility managers increasingly work to incorporate more renewable energy into their organizations’ energy profiles, the fact that more solar power is leading to cheaper energy rates is welcome news.

California has a goal of producing 60 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. Hitting this goal is largely dependent on the cost of renewable energy continuing to decrease.

California set two new records last recently, according to the LA Times piece: Most ever solar power in the electricity grid, and also most solar taken offline because it couldn’t be used. But that’s not bad news: A study quoted in the article says that because now solar is so inexpensive, it actually does makes sense to overbuild solar, because it's a cheaper solution than relying on energy storage, which still may not be quite technologically ready for prime time on a large scale.

“It’s not like solar is going to be available all the time,” said Richard Perez, a solar energy expert at the State University of New York at Albany and one of the study’s authors. “At night you will need storage, and on cloudy days you will need storage. But you will need much less of it.”

Greg Zimmerman is executive editor of Building Operating Management. Read his cover story on how buildings are tackling climate change.

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