The Emissions Intensity of California's Electricity Grid | A New Shade of Green | Sherry Listgarten | Palo Alto Online |

2022-07-25 02:40:24 By : Mr. Sales Manager

E-mail Sherry Listgarten About this blog: Climate change, despite its outsized impact on the planet, is still an abstract concept to many of us. That needs to change. My hope is that readers of this blog will develop a better understanding of how our climate is evolving a...  (More) About this blog: Climate change, despite its outsized impact on the planet, is still an abstract concept to many of us. That needs to change. My hope is that readers of this blog will develop a better understanding of how our climate is evolving and how they want to respond, and will feel comfortable asking questions and exchanging comments on the topic. It is important that we develop a shared understanding of the basic science and impacts of climate change, to make sense of our actions and policy options going forward. My background is not in climate science, and I'm not even particularly green; my hope is that helps to make this blog more relatable. I studied math and neurobiology on the east coast before moving out here in 1987 for grad school in computer science. After working in the tech industry for about 25 years, I retired a few years ago to better align my time with my priorities. I love spending time outdoors, and feel deeply our responsibility to this incredible planet that we call home.  (Hide)

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I have an EV and a grandfathered EV-A rate structure. Why does PG&E still encourage off-peak (after 11 pm) charging when there is an abundance of solar flooding the grid from 9-2?

You may want to check, they try to tell you how clean the grid is at any time. Their CEO, Gavin McCormick, was interviewed by The Interchange Recharged podcast Web Link As you noted, what we buy (where our money goes) and what we get are two different things. For the later, we have no choice but aggregate the grid. CAISO is too small, you need to look at the Western Interconnect. Using the EIA data for the 11 western states is the best approximation I have found (and unlike CEC/CARB, they offer 2021 data, and machine readable data).

It's nice to see that battery storage is intended to quadruple over the next 3 years - it'll be interesting to find out how much of an effect that has.

First, I am for innovation and very much a fan of the accomplishments in this field, but I also know that we are in no way at a point in time to cut the cord of fossil fuels- and the Biden administration has been Mach 3 since he sat behind the desk in the Oval Office to do just that. His foot on the brakes of our oil industry for the purposes of pushing his Green agenda can't be any more obvious. Who does that? Who tinkers with a country that was practically energy independent when you first pulled back the shades in the White House? Who tells citizens to go out and buy electric cars when they are struggling to pay the mortgage, the rent, food? Energy is everything to a ‘first world' country and helps sustain our freedom, which is fading rapidly day-by-day. Energy storage, mentioned above, is vital to the whole innovation, but we are nowhere near capturing this capacity in the near future. Look outside our boarders and see what is happening in France, Germany, Argentina, and others regarding their forceful hand upon their citizenry to bear the problems of their ideology. Secondly, open your eyes at the caustic and dangerous byproducts of the Green New Deal: solar panels, Wind machines, and batteries will and are becoming an issues for disposal. They create some serious chemicals. Anyone who has attempted the slightest bit of reading knows that Nuclear has a smaller footprint to the environment and greater and consistent output for our community. The Green New Deal is for the donors who have everything invested in this new industry. Lastly, I'm not a fan of ‘brown outs,' and I particularly don't care for having to consults time charts as to when you can turn your A/C on or run your washing machine. EV cars are exciting, but again, we are not at a point to rely totally on these products. I feel much more confident knowing that my car can travel to its destination without 3 stops to charge it back up. Just my thoughts. Thank you.

I noticed you did not include residential solar, only grid scale solar. However, residential solar is very valuable in combating global warming. It increases the total supply of clean energy (thus reducing burning gas) while being privately financed (by home owners). When combined with a home battery (like Tesla Powerwall) it allows you to shift the excess solar collected to lower the times when gas burns and recharge your electric car at night. While Solar pays for itself, the electric storage does not currently and should be partially subsidized going forward. Regardless, I think your negativity towards residential solar is misplaced and harmful to our planet.

Sherry - as always an informative, well-sourced article. Thank you. Jake - we're in a planetary emergency. You clearly don't get that and neither does the republican party or Joe Manchin. Unfortunately, our kids and theirs (and many generations to come) will be paying a very steep price for this ignorance and complacency. Green New Deal? What Green New Deal are you talking about? Are you under the impression that this has become law or even government policy? And the Fox News sourced garbage on environmental problems caused by green tech? There might be some issues to deal with but can you honestly compare any such issues to the millions dying from air pollution from fossil fuels or the land, rivers and oceans being polluted by massive spills and pipes bursting? [Portion removed.]

"Jake - we're in a planetary emergency. You clearly don't get that and neither does the republican party or Joe Manchin. Unfortunately, our kids and theirs (and many generations to come) will be paying a very steep price for this ignorance and complacency." Who's "we"? The "emergency" is too many (ignorant) people thinking the world is going to end if we don't do what they want, when they want it. You clearly do not get that crippling our current energy production/supply capabilities (while other nations will not) to "save the planet" has both economic and national security implications. Negative ones, that is. Manchin "got it". The average person/family would have been paying a steeper price - just to make ends meet. Inflation would be much worse than it is now if Biden's trillion-dollar climate spending bill was enacted.

Terrific comments, thanks! I can tell that you read and understood this post, which I worried was a little wonky… I have a lot of thoughts, so I will break them up into smaller posts. @WestMenloMom: I do not know exactly what went into crafting the time-of-use rates that the utilities have today. They are all different (for different utilities), and as you said they have changed over time. I am pretty sure that the utilities optimized for cost rather than for emissions. (The two are generally aligned but not completely aligned.) That is what the utilities have to do, in fact. Since demand is so low in the middle of the night, and it is much cheaper for utilities to keep some gas plants running, it may well cost them less to satisfy demand from midnight to 5am than from 10am to 2pm, at least on weekdays. One of the points of discussion with the real-time pricing they are considering is whether the prices should take emissions into account or just the cost of producing the energy (assuming cost of emissions is zero). That will be an interesting discussion.

@Eric: Thanks for the pointers! I omitted WattTime from this post because they charge for the data. The Western Interconnect doesn’t represent the electricity that we use. Any electricity we get from outside of CAISO is counted as an import. So I think looking at CAISO is the correct representation of what is coming into our homes and businesses. It is great that we have this large interconnect, though, that allows us to exchange electricity easily. It reduces cost and increases reliability for all of us.

@Mondoman: I've already seen a huge change in how batteries are used in the last few years. Just two years ago they were mainly used for frequency adjustments on the grid, basically ensuring that power stays at the right frequency. Now there is enough of it to really make a difference in shaving the peaks down, reducing our emissions and costs. I think the new batteries will have a great effect if we can actually build it all. It is an enormous amount. Then imagine on top of that if we get EVs contributing at times of critical summer peaks (for example). There is a gigantic amount of storage in EV batteries already, and even more in 5-10 years.

@Jake: I so appreciate you weighing in, and I agree with many of your points. We are not in a position today to cut ourselves off from gas. We clearly need some gas on the grid now, and we will for a while. We also need some gas for buildings, industrial processes, transportation, etc, and we will for a while. As you say, gas and energy more generally have been critical to our development, and will continue to be. We can’t be careless with them. I also agree that energy independence is important. I also agree that brownouts are not great, that NO ONE wants to consult time charts in order to use their appliances (some may do it to save money, but no one wants to), and that EV cars are still not a good choice for everyone. I appreciate the thought you’ve given to all of this, and the many sensible points you make. I’ll add a few things, which you may already be aware of… Although we will absolutely need gas for many things for many years, I would say that it is really important that we start using less of it right now. That is because it will save us a lot of money in the long run. The more gas we use now, the more emissions “debt” we are taking on, and the more it will cost us to clean up. If anything, I wish we had started 20 years ago. I wrote about that some here, if you didn’t see it. And as you know, as someone who likes and appreciates innovation, we have lots of ways to reduce our gas use, safely and reliably and cost-effectively, and will have even more soon. I love that, and it’s a really exciting time right now, though as you also say sometimes we don’t get everything exactly right. That’s what innovation is about, right? Because of that, I do NOT think we should be growing the gas industry. In fact, I’m not sure even the gas industry thinks we should be growing the gas industry at this point. New oil wells are 30-year investments, which is just not a good use of money given our need to reduce emissions. Our job as a first-world country is to invent and move to the better option -- cleaner energy -- and then bring the rest of the world along. Solar and wind and geothermal development make us more energy independent, and we are working on more domestic battery materials and development. So I am 100% in favor of stopping new domestic oil exploration. It makes no financial sense and it just entrenches old ways of doing things instead of moving forwards. I worry more about things in the other direction, honestly. Young people coming out of college want to be part of exciting and growing industries. So they are not interested in oil and gas, even though as you say we rely on that industry and we need people to keep efficient plants running, reducing methane leaks and improving efficiency, and so on. Carbon capture and storage will hopefully be a way to attract young people. Re nuclear, FWIW, if it were cheaper to build I think we would use it more. I worry also here that since we are building so little, we are losing our expertise in this area. So I hope we keep innovating here as well. But right now it is just far too expensive, even with its high capacity factor. We’ll see what comes down the pike. Finally, re needing to read time charts, here is some hope for you. My EV is plugged in right now, but I have no idea if it’s charging or not. (I just checked and it’s not, it’s waiting for cleaner power.) So, no time chart! If I did want it to charge right now, or be charged by a certain time, I can use settings for that. The idea is just that more appliances could work this way. You probably don’t care when your hot water heater or pool pump are running as long as you get hot water when you need it and a clean pool when you need it. Anyway, I just want to thank you again for reading and chiming in, and I hope you continue to do so.

@LocalResident: The table you refer to is just straight from the CPUC document. It is about utility buildout, so it didn’t include “behind the meter” tech like rooftop solar or home batteries. No editing on my part :) FWIW, I have no beef with rooftop solar or with the many homeowners and businesses that have invested in it. My only beef is with the pricing, which is patently unfair. Non-solar utility customers are paying far too much for energy that has far too little value. It’s been a great deal for adopters but a terrible deal for non-adopters. California is appropriately addressing that. I think we will continue to have lots of rooftop solar because it will still be a good deal, if not a screaming deal, especially with batteries. But hopefully we see it more equitably deployed and with more storage. That's my 2c anyway.

@Ronen/MichaelB: I think the planet is in bad shape and getting worse. The evidence is all around us, and I’m not sure any political party is disputing that any longer. So that is something. It is fair to weigh short-term benefits vs long-term pain and short-term pain vs long-term benefits. We people tend to be pretty short-term focused, and climate-change is (or at least has been) a long-term problem. It is also very much an equity problem, as MichaelB alludes to. My concern is that Manchin’s policies have not been good for the people of West Virginia, where GDP has gone up just 4% since 2010 compared to 80% for California, and I don’t think they will be good for the country either. We need to be looking towards the future, not looking to the past. We can do that with a focus on equity and affordability. I actually think Biden has that focus, and you can see much more climate-forward policies in other countries where there is good GDP growth and much more equity than we have here. But I get that these can be difficult discussions, and I appreciate your weighing in respectfully and thoughtfully. Again, thanks for all the interesting and helpful comments. There are just so many fairly straight-forward ways -- and even more innovative ways -- that we can be reducing our emissions, and every day I appreciate California’s leadership on this, the dedication of many minds working on technical and social solutions, and all of you who are interested in learning more, discussing the topic, and trying things out. It all makes a difference!

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