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Advocacy Update January 2021

As we transition from fossil fuel to electricity, the electrical grid impacts are a serious concern. As we switch to electricity, peak loads on the grid will change. Heating with heat pumps will increase demand in the winter months, and electric vehicles add to the grid load all year long. The CEC has conducted a study to project the impacts of fuel substitution. See the chart below.

Seasonal Peak Loads after High FS

Managing the grid loads will become a critical strategy. Loads on the grid will increase due to electrification. We must actively manage these loads to reduce their impact on the electrical grid.  One option is to shift some of them to times of less overall demand. An example would be charging electric vehicles at night when the electricity demand is less. This process is known as load shifting. 

Another grid management strategy is storage. Currently, our grid works on real-time supply and demand, and there is no reserve capacity. Adding storage, in the form of batteries and other technologies, is another form of grid management. Storage allows you to take full advantage of clean energy produced by renewables, such as solar, which has a peak output in the middle of the day. Grid management strategies, such as load shifting and storage, will allow the state to transition to renewably generated electricity with less impact on the electricity system.

Another benefit of grid management is it allow the grid managers to reduce curtailment (reducing output) of renewables during their peak output in the middle of the day. Curtailment is a serious issue. What is the point of adding more renewables to the grid if we can’t fully take advantage of their full capacity?

The combined effect of managing loads and adding storage will reduce the need to curtail generation from renewable sources. The California Energy Commission is well aware of the impacts of electrification and the potential benefits of load shifting and storage. The graph below indicates the potential of grid management strategies moving forward.

Potential Electricity System Impacts of Load Shifting

As you can see from the graph on the left, load shifting and storage dramatically impact generation needs all year. The graph on the right indicates how grid management can reduce renewable curtailment. 

I want to give a shout-out to Sean Armstrong and Redwood Energy for their recent Zero Carbon Retreat. I would also like to thank Ingrid Neumann of the CEC, who presented this information at the Zero Carbon Retreat. Did I mention that all of the speakers at the Redwood Energy Zero Carbon retreat were female? Again thanks for the excellent presentations and information.

Charley Cormany

Executive Director