A 21st Century Gold Rush

California's Looming Solar Glut

Robust solar resource may be wasted due to balkanized grid

Upwards to 8,000 megawatts of California solar power may go untapped periodically this year as a result of poor transmission integration in the vast West.

Ralph Cavanagh, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council energy program, has just blogged that grid integration should be a priority for the electric sector and policy makers to avoid wasting renewable resources.

"Without better integration of the western grid, California’s renewable energy is too often blocked from willing buyers outside the state, and the problem is getting steadily worse,” Cavanagh said. “Soon as much as 6,000 to 8,000 of California’s 10,000 megawatts of large-scare solar generation may be curtailed during some hours of this year.”

He continued: “The solution lies in a transition to a fully integrated western grid in which the balancing authorities are consolidated and all generators have full competitive access to electricity buyers across 15 states, two Canadian provinces, and parts of Mexico.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ralph Cavanagh will examine the future of renewables in the concluding session of the Renewables Rush executive energy conference in San Francisco on April 5.


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