What is the Duck Curve?

What is the Duck Curve?

Today we are going to talk about the grid
and a duck. An odd combination, but they actually do go
together. This graph shows the hourly electric load
on a spring day in California It’s the lowest at night when people are
asleep. It starts rising as people wake up and peaks
around noon, then then tapers off starting around 6pm. Utilities balance this variable demand by
ramping up and ramping down power plants to control their output. For decades, these patterns have remained
relatively predictable. As more homes, businesses and utilities go
solar, these patterns are changing. Here is the same chart, but with some of the
demand met by solar. Solar panels are added and the curve gets
pulled down when Greg says “but” The rest of the demand needs to be met by
traditional power plants. As solar meets more demand during the day,
it means less conventional energy is needed. But as solar production goes down at night,
conventional energy needs to ramp up quickly to meet evening demand. This balancing act between energy supply and
demand can waste some of the solar energy that’s being generated. If solar generates too much power, utilities
need to manage the oversupply on the market. They can decide to curtail solar production,
which means that they don’t use some of the power that is generated. Fortunately, this only happens a handful of
times every year and in only a few areas—like California—where solar generates significant
amounts of the utility’s energy supply. So, what can be done to help address these
issues? First, we can increase the flexibility of
generation by adding diverse energy sources, increasing the geographic area in which we
can balance power supply on the grid, and developing better prediction technologies. Second, pricing can be structured to incentivize
consumers to use less energy in the evening, which would help reduce the ramping requirement
as the sun goes down. And third, we can shift PV generation to the
evening by storing power generated by solar earlier in the day. As we look to a future with exponentially
higher amounts of solar energy connected to the grid, these strategies could enable the
electricity system to use all the electricity generated from solar with more cushion for
utilities to meet the evening load. So that’s how we’re going to solve this
tricky problem with the duck. Right now, these challenges are only faced
in areas like California and Hawaii, where there’s a lot of solar. But, with help from the SunShot Initiative,
these lessons learned can be replicated across the country as more states tackle the same
challenges and solar becomes a greater part of our energy mix.


    The Official US Department of Energy does a video on the Duck Curve: 0 comments in a year

    Vox does a video on the Duck Curve: Hundreds of comments in a day

    O U C H

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