California has always been on the frontlines when it comes to solar power initiatives. That shouldn’t come as a surprise from a state that enjoys sunshine practically every month of the year.
As a result, California has produced a vast amount of solar power. So much so, they’ve produced too much energy, and are now forced to cut back. The damage has been done, however, and the influx of energy has driven prices to staggering lows.
As of April 2018, California has been forced to cut back on nearly 95,000 megawatt-hours of electricity by closing or scaling down wind and solar farms. To put that number into perspective, that amount of electricity could easily power 15 million homes for two hours.
California’s overzealousness has led to significant problems
California’s overzealous approach to harness solar power can’t be seen as entirely bad. The ultimate goal was to increase the use of clean energy to lessen our impact on the environment. Interestingly enough, California has nearly achieved many of its energy goals that were originally slated to be completed by 2030.
Simply put, California is nearly a decade ahead of schedule, and they still have more energy initiatives that are already in motion. One such initiative is that new homes must be built with solar panels in 2020 and beyond.
Ordinarily this would be a step in the right direction. However, with new homes adding more energy to the equation, this new initiative will only serve to exacerbate the current energy crisis.
While the environment benefits from solar energy, problems abound
California has certainly achieved one of it is goals – reducing carbon emissions and producing a vast amount of clean energy, which in turn greatly benefits the environment. Unfortunately, the California power grid can’t handle the load.
You also have to consider the economics of the situation. The more you have of something, the less valuable it becomes. In this instance, there’s plenty of energy to go around, but that means plant operators will make significantly less profit.
With fewer profits, there’s less incentive to open more plants to contain the energy being produced. Thus, we’re faced with the current power overflow situation. You also have to consider other forms of energy being produced as well, such as nuclear and wind.
A study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has deduced that if solar energy continues to be produced at such staggering rates in California, other forms of energy (such as nuclear and wind) will also be affected adversely.
In other words, this problem may not just be a California problem, it may transmogrify into a national crisis.
What can be done to fix this issue?
California has a long road ahead to make sure this situation doesn’t get any worse. One possible fix would be to scale up California’s power grid. That option, however, would be undoubtedly expensive.
Another possible solution would be to ship the extra power off to other states in need, though that plan would likely meet with transportation and storage complications.
Whatever the solution, California won’t be able to get out of this situation without spending some serious cash. With 2020 nearly around the corner, we won’t have to wait long to see what the golden state will do next.