On March 11th, California produced an unreal amount of solar power. It was a record breaking day; the first day in the state’s history that it received 50% of its power from solar power. When you consider the sheer electrical draw of the entire state of California, that’s an incredible feat!
And while that’s a fantastic accomplishment, an interesting fact from that day has surfaced, courtesy of the United States Energy Information Administration. For a few hours on March 11th, the state produced so much solar power that it caused the price of power to turn negative for a brief while. For a few hours, Californians were given money for free.
How is something like this even possible?
A lot of the old talking points about solar power being inefficient and expensive aren’t especially accurate anymore. Solar power is getting cheaper by the month and its efficiency is skyrocketing. But this renewable energy being produced can’t effectively be stored – yet. That means, the bonus energy floods the grid anyway, even though there isn’t a way to hold onto it. Because it’s become so inexpensive, other energy companies buy it from the grid for use.
It is an unusual thing and kind of difficult to wrap your head around, but it’s bound to become more common. With the way California is implementing and proliferating solar power, all you need is another real nice day and the right conditions to do it all over again. Spring is the most likely time for this to occur now, as the weather is better and demand for heating and cooling will be at an all time low.
I wouldn’t bet on fossil fuels remaining relevant much longer in the Golden State.