Solar duck curve

I really need to get to that blog about the duck curve… But it just ain’t going to happen between now and the 21st.

Ok Ok, here is the quick version.
We have so much solar in California, Hawaii and Australia that each day, the sun rises and the power stations have to produce less power as all that power from solar panels gets injected into the grid.
Then, the people go home from work and turn on their home AC and plasma TV’s… just as the sun is setting, so now the power stations have to ramp up their base load.
The resulting curve looks like a ducks back (the green line).

Hence, duck curve.
(Yes, it changes shape a bit on the weekends, but not that much).

Challenges?
Stop and think about this….. power has to be used at the same time it is produced. Or flip it around, you have to produce the exact amount of power that is required in real time. The power grid is NOT a battery. There is NO flywheel. It is all done, it HAS to be all done, in real time.

So, what if there is more solar than you can use? Just ask Hawaii.
Bad things happen. The solar feeds back into the power station and tries to run it in reverse. This is bad. Very Very VERY bad. (Trust me on this one).

Another challenge? The amount of ramping up and down the power companies have to do each day. They have to shed generation in the mornings as the sun rises and then ramp up the generators in the evening.
Very complex and very expensive.

Another challenge? Wind turbines. We get sunny windy days. Bleh.

Another challenge? Clouds. None in Southern California, but other parts of the state have some (or so I am told). As the clouds come and go, so does the solar power.

Can this get any tricker?

Yup. August 21st 2017.
There will be a solar eclipse across the USA.

http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article152830654.html

The grid has never (ever) been tested like this. Ever.

I am going to be sitting at work looking at my groov web pages.
I have grid frequency, grid voltage, solar radiation and grid base load graphs… I will be cooking my popcorn before the lights go out…..


2 Responses to Solar duck curve

  1. Thanks for finally explaining the “duck curve”.

    I don’t want to spoil the popcorn, but a couple of points.

    The area of total eclipse is very small compared to the size of the USA.

    The partial eclipse area is still small compared to, say, a hurricane.

    But yeah – I can understand why you would want to monitor it.

    Don’t forget to give us an update come the 21st.

    • I see your point….. But, while the area of the total eclipse is small, even SoCal is going to see a 60% reduction in sunlight (from memory), thus it will make a difference…. The important part is that it will be nice and slow both in and out, so yeah, I don’t expect anything exciting to happen (or not happen).