How is Green Power Dealing With Current Heat Wave?

Russ Steele

Wayne Lusvardi writing at CalWatchDog has some details in — Moonbeam power no help during heat wave energy ‘snapback’

Green Power hasn’t been much help during the current heat wave. Especially bad have been the “snapback” hours from, about 7 to 8 pm daily, when demand exceeds the forecasted supply of power.  Green Power is, at best, a pricey luxury public good.


The state electric grid operator forecasts that California should have a surplus of about 10 percent — or 5,200 megawatts of extra power — to cover the estimated demand of about 47,000 megawatts of electricity needed to meet the heat wave from August 10-12.

But wind and solar power are producing only about 1,300 megawatts – or about 2.8 percent — of peak hour power needs from 3 to 5 p.m. during the heat wave.

And green power can’t be counted on if suddenly the wind should stop blowing or a dust storm should cover solar panels on desert solar energy plants. Despite all the hoopla about Green Power it is a pricey luxury public good ,at best.

Is California’s huge investment in green power — wind and solar energy — making any difference? And when California shifts to 33 percent mandated Green Power in the year 2020, will this pose a threat to the reliability of the power grid during similar heat waves or cold snaps?

o o o

Green Power Generation on August 9 

The three stable sources of green power — geothermal, biomass, and hydropower — were producing about 1,500 megawatts on Aug. 9 (see second graph above).

The variable sources of green power — wind and solar power — were producing about 1,900 megawatts when it was least needed at 1 a.m.

At 8 a.m. wind and solar were generating about 600 to 700 megawatts of power.

At 3 p.m. — when peak power was needed most — wind and solar were only about 1,300 megawatts of the 47,000 megawatt peak load or about 2.8 percent.   Solar power production starts to drop fast while consumption is rising towards its peak.   This is not typically fatal to irrigating crops but it could be for other purposes.

Then there is the proverbial “snapback” of power demand about 7 to 8 pm. This is when demand typically exceeds forecasted supply of power as people turn on late night television to go to bed but air conditioners are still turned on.  Solar power at this hour is typically non-existent and wind power is mostly a late night and early morning phenomenon.


What is going to happen in 2020 when 33% of California power is wind and solar?  The “snap back” power demand is when alternative energy sources are producing the least, the sun is going down and the wind blows the least during the transition period at sunset.  Remember that smart meter that PG&E installed. It is during this “snap back” period that the power company will be turning off  your AC to protect the grid from collapse.

Full article is HERE


About Russ Steele
Freelance writer and climate change blogger. Russ spent twenty years in the Air Force as a navigator specializing in electronics warfare and digital systems. After his service he was employed for sixteen years as concept developer for TRW, an aerospace and automotive company, and then was CEO of a non-profit Internet provider for 18 months. Russ's articles have appeared in Comstock's Business, Capitol Journal, Trailer Life, Monitoring Times, and Idaho Magazine.

One Response to How is Green Power Dealing With Current Heat Wave?

  1. Arthur M. Day. says:

    In summer, California will sweat in the dark. In winter, California will freeze in the dark.

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