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Expanded Solar Capacity Means Supply Exceeds Demand for Solar in California

California is setting records for the amount of solar energy it can’t use, but this cushion might be a good thing: it means the state won’t need to depend as heavily on fossil fuels as a stopgap.
June 10, 2019, 12pm PDT | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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More electricity than you require.

The state of California has increased its solar energy production, and now it often has more than it can use. "The state’s fleet of solar farms and rooftop panels frequently generate more electricity than Californians use during the middle of the day — a phenomenon that has sent lawmakers and some climate advocates scrambling to find ways to save the extra sunlight rather than let it go to waste," Sammy Roth reports for the Los Angeles Times.

While this may seem wasteful, a study from the academic journal, Solar Energy, suggests it might actually be prudent to build oversupply into the system. "Solar power has gotten so inexpensive that overbuilding it will probably be the cheapest way to keep the lights on during cloudy or overcast days — cheaper than relying entirely on batteries," Roth explains. Maintaining an oversupply of power is nothing new for utilities, who always need to maintain some cushion. Generating that cushion with solar energy, is a new practice for utilities.

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Published on Wednesday, June 5, 2019 in Los Angeles Times
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