California peaks at over 4 GW of utility-scale solar generation, meeting 18% of demand

Renewable energy output on March 8th, 2014
All utility-scale renewables together provided over 6 GW for five hours during the day

The state of California has set a new record for peak utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) generation at 4.093 GW on March 8th, 2014, according to the state's grid operator. This breaks the record of 3.926 GW set the previous day.

The new 4.09 GW record is nearly double the record of 2.07 GW set in June 2013, and reflects the number of large PV and CSP plants commissioned in the state over the last nine months. These figures do not include behind-the-meter PV and CSP.

“This shows that California is making remarkable progress in not only getting new resources approved and connected to the grid, but making meaningful contributions in keeping the lights on as well,” says ISO President and CEO Steve Berberich.

“The milestones illustrate that we are well into a new era when clean, renewable energy is shouldering its share of our electricity needs — and that is exciting.”

CSP reaches 449 MW, even without Ivanpah unit 1

Utility-scale PV peaked at 3.67 GW at 1:41 PM on March 8th, 2014, and CSP reached 449 MW at 3:13 PM. This is particularly high output for each, and comes despite one of the three units at the Ivanpah CSP plant being listed as fully “curtailed or non-operational”. At least one unit at Ivanpah has remained offline nearly all days in 2014.

For this CSP peak output of 449 MW to be reached required at least partial output from both the Solar Electric Generating Stations and Ivanpah. Output of PV and CSP plants remained high for much of the day, with the output of the two above 3.7 GW from 10 AM through 3 PM.

Altogether, output of California's renewables remained above 6 GW during these five hours, with limited wind output as well as steady hydro, biogas, biomass and geothermal output.

Utility-scale PV, CSP peak at over 18% of generation

During mid-day on March 8th, 2014 California's electric demand was around 23 GW, meaning that utility-scale PV and CSP peaked at around 18% of demand. Were behind the meter PV plants to be included this figure would be higher, however the California Independent System Operator does not publish these figures.


2014-03-11 | Courtesy: California ISO | © Heindl Server GmbH

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