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Old 05-23-2018, 01:57 PM   #1827 (permalink)
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grid electricity

Originally Posted by redpoint5 View Post
The law applies to new apartments and condos, and there are exceptions for structures that are shaded or otherwise a poor location for solar. That said:

The financial incentive to go solar in CA is why mandating it is thoughtless. CA already has among the highest utility rates and the most sun, so the incentive to install solar is already there. Government has no business dictating the precise method of alleviating the symptoms of some problem (picking technology winners and losers). Perhaps wind power makes more sense in some location than solar. Why mandate they install solar anyhow? The role of government isn't to drive specific technologies or pick arbitrary goals, but instead to identify real problems, and set reasonable limits that will make the problem acceptable. Mandating solar to solve the problem of high electricity consumption is like mandating sales of the Nissan Versa Note to solve the problem of people driving too fast.

In other words, only bad things can happen when the government assumes the role of the free market, just as only bad things can happen if business is allowed to assume the role of the government and set its own rules and limits.

Regarding impact to the utility, CA is a great location for solar since peak electrical consumption is somewhat related to peak solar energy. It's good up until a certain percentage of electricity generation, and then as you point out, it becomes a problem as the infrastructure isn't designed to handle enormous amounts of power being fed back onto the grid. Parts of Hawaii are already experiencing this problem as solar installs have approached the limits of the grid to handle it. There are people on wait lists for approval to install grid-tied solar due to this problem.

Grid electricity is a very complex problem because electrical output must exactly match demand at all times. That means if a cloud shades a bunch of solar and the output drops off quickly, the grid generators must instantly ramp up production to compensate. If the clouds quickly disappear and solar production spikes back up, generators must quickly respond. Any excess energy produced has to be shunted to ground (wasted), and any lack of electricity causes brownouts.
A program on China's solar industry showed a photovoltaic farm with grid-scale batteries during a cloud transit.
The output was a flatline,with batteries filling the void as PV power fell off until the sun 'came back.'
It was seamless!
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