More on the downside of unreliable solar power: Paying to get rid of excess electricity.

Photo by James Ulvog.

There is so much excess electricity from solar power that sometimes California has to pay utilities in other states to take it. Also, what will we do with all those panels when they wear out?

6/22/17 – Los Angeles Times – California invested heavily in solar power. Now there is so much that other states are sometimes paid to take it – There are two non-negotiable physical laws that undercut the value of solar power.

First, electricity must be used the instant it is generated. Second, solar power is generated when the sun is bright not necessarily when the electricity is needed.

Some days, there is so much solar power in California that “we” have to pay utilities in Arizona to take the electricity in order to keep from overloading the grid in California.

This happened 14 days in March, 9 days in February, and 8 days in January.

Oh, we have paid other states to take excess electricity off our hands as well.

Let me explain that again: there is so much power dumped on the market from overproduction that it drives prices negative. Instead of the Arizona utilities paying to buy electricity, they’re getting paid by California consumers to take it.

Why does it have to be sold? If pumped into the grid in California, that excess power could overload the grid and cause blackouts. Yeah, we could have blackouts from generating too much solar-produced electricity.

Article says the volume of electricity sold at negative prices would have been worse except that the regulators ordered natural gas plants to curtail production to offset some of the unneeded solar power.

The direct results of legislature-required policies is that electricity rates are rising faster in California than the rest of the US. Thanks to the wizards in Sacramento, we now pay about 50% more than the average for all consumers in the US.

The disruption will get worse. Currently about one-fourth of our power is from intermittent, unreliable renewable sources. The geniuses in Sacramento have determined 50% must be from only-when-the-sun-shines-or-the-wind-blows sources by 17 years from now.

Even CalISO acknowledges increasing solar production will further increase pricing issues, which will be caused by increased stress on the grid.

6/29/17 – Watts Up With That? – Waste From Solar Panels: 300 Times That of Nuclear Power the Japanese Environment Ministry warned last fall that the solar waste in their country is going to increase from 10,000 tons now to 800,000 tons by 2040. Oh, the country has no plans for disposition.

Oh, neither does California have any plans for getting rid of our solar panel waste.

Quoted article says when comparing the waste from solar panels and nuclear power, equal amounts of energy creates 300 times more toxic and other waste for solar panels than nuclear power plants.

Article sites another study which analyzes the disposal of all our nuclear waste in deep borehole sites, the cost of which would be $84B in 2017 dollars, which equals one-third of one penny per kWh of generated electricity. If solar panels producing in the same amount of electricity were to be buried the same way the cost would be $.96 per kWh for disposal.

The open question in California, as I understand, is who will pick up that high cost?

2 thoughts on “More on the downside of unreliable solar power: Paying to get rid of excess electricity.”

  1. I have no idea how it works. Use the power to turn turbines that aren’t outputting anywhere. Something other than paying someone to take what we charge our citizens for. If I lived in California and heard about this I’d be furious. Why is my bill this high when you literally have too much power?

    1. Hi:

      It isn’t just that we have too much power. Instead, we have too much power at moments when we don’t need that much power.

      Electricity must be used the instant (or as soon as it can be transmitted somewhere to be used) it is created. One of the many severe problems with wind and solar power is we need the energy at a time other than when it is generated. If there is a misbalance, the excess electricity has to be sold on the wholesale market at whatever the price may be at that instant.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.


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