When we said the sun
doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always gust, we weren’t just
blowing hot air, so to speak. We really meant that with the current lack
of technology to store the electricity generated from wind and solar
that you better have a good back up system in place for when you don’t
have the resources to create power from the sun and wind. The power
plants operators in San Diego, Cali. are finding this out now and
keeping natural gas a vital part of their power mix.
A recent story in the
San Diego Union-Tribune reports that only 14 percent of the region’s
power comes from renewables such as wind and solar. The rest is created
from fossil fuels, mostly natural gas. And, local environmental
officials are okay with this.
Here’s what one said in the Union-Tribune story:
“Natural gas ought to be
viewed as complementary, and not competing with renewables,” said Jim
Marston, director of energy program for the Environmental Defense Fund.
The state of California
is also working to make its natural gas power plant technology more
eco-friendly and more efficient. Old power plants along the coast used
mass amounts of seawater for cooling. The new ones do not. The new gas
turbines are also more efficient and create twice as much power from the
same amount of natural gas as the old turbines.
Still, more and more
renewable energy, by California state mandate, is being forced on line.
The goal is to have 33 percent of electricity produced from non-fossil
fuels by 2020. And, believe it or not, that goal actually increases the
need for natural gas.
Again, from the Union-Tribune:
“People need to
understand the intermittency challenge we have. The wind comes and goes,
and on the hottest days of the year, there’s no wind, and you still
need to provide power to your customers. These resources are not under
our control, but under the control of nature,” said San Diego Gas and
Electric’s president Michael Niggli.
That’s when your gas
plant kicks in to save the day. And, if more and more of your power is
generated from wind and solar, that means more and more often your gas
plants kicks in to cover that intermittency.
To read more about how California is making natural gas power plants cleaner and more efficient, read the full article here.
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