- California’s utility scale solar hit a new hourly peak output of 4,767 megawatts (AC) on June 1, and during the average peak solar output hour of 11:00 a.m. to noon in May, solar supplied 14% of the state’s power, up from 6% in May 2013, according to the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), the grid operator.
- California had an averaged peak hourly generation for May of 4,086 megawatts (AC), 150% above the May 2013 output, and total utility scale solar production was 6% of CAISO’s May load, up from 2% of the load in May 2013
- California added 2,145 megawatts (AC) of utility-scale solar capacity in 2013, with 500 megawatts (AC) coming from concentrating solar power (CSP) plants and the balance from photovoltaic (PV) solar plants, and California also brought 700 megawatts (DC) of behind-the-meter residential and commercial/industrial PV online in 2013.
A CAISO spokesperson told this reporter earlier in the year that renewables records are coming so fast now they will only be reported in 500-megawatt increments.
CAISO’s advanced sub-five-minute electricity market is able to dial back use of the state’s natural gas and imported electricity when the predictable output pattern of solar increases and bring more of them into the grid’s resource mix when solar predictably drops off but CAISO has indicated integrating less predictable renewables is more challenging, according to EIA.
Natural gas was 59% of California’s generation in 2013 and 3,940 megawatts of new natural gas capacity came online during the year, reducing the deficit of generating capacity lost when the 2,200 megawatt San Onofre nuclear facility shut down in 2012 and providing more of the reserve capacity needed to balance renewables.
EIA uses alternating current (AC), the electricity consumers use, but solar PV plants generate direct current (DC), the more common measurement for describing installed solar capacity and an approximately 10% to 20% higher number.