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From Dusk to Dawn: The Challenges of Intermittent Power

By Roger S. Conrad on Aug. 13, 2014

Let’s assume that we live in the best of all possible for wind and solar power.

The federal government renews and even enhances federal tax credits and other subsidies after the 2016 elections. Meanwhile, the EPA finalizes a strengthened version of its proposed rules to reduce CO2 emissions. New grid connection tariffs for distributed solar power also never come to pass.

Rapid technological improvements drive down costs for all wind and solar-power installations, while utilities ramp up construction of renewable-energy capacity with the support of state regulators.

(Recent developments in Hawaii, one of the few locations where solar power can compete against entrenched thermal-power plants, could serve as a template.)

Finally, let’s assume that whatever supply disruptions arise from the Commerce Dept’s efforts to impose tariffs on Chinese imports are offset by comparably prices components from other manufacturers.

Even in this, the best of all possible worlds for wind and solar power, the so-called duck curve looms large and threatens to saddle consumers and businesses with higher electricity prices.  

Developed by California’s Independent System Operator (CAISO), the duck curve tracks power draws on the state’s grid over the course of a single day.


Source: CAISO

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