More solar power in Nevada might be just gliding the lily

NV Energy a couple of weeks ago provided the Public Utilities Commission with a report on its compliance in 2017 with the legislatively mandated renewable portfolio standard (RPS).

Under the law, the electric company was required to obtain 20 percent of its power from renewables in 2017 and 6 percent of that had to come from solar generation. By 2025 the requirement will be 25 percent renewables with 6 percent of that from solar sources.

Both subsidiaries of NV Energy met the 2017 requirement. Nevada Power in the southern part of the state generated 23.1 percent of its power from renewables and 44.5 percent of that from solar, meaning about 10 percent of the total power came from solar. Up north, Sierra Pacific generated 25.5 percent from renewables with 31 percent of that from solar, or almost 8 percent of total from solar.

Still more solar projects are on the drawing board.

According to the Institute for Energy Research, there is a solar value cliff after which adding solar photovoltaic capacity has zero value. IER says that cliff is 6 percent of all power production.

“Peak solar generation occurs early in the afternoon, while peak electricity demand typically occurs during early evening,” IER says. “This mismatch presents a scenario called the ‘duck curve,’ in which operators are forced to rapidly scale up other generation sources as solar generation ceases in order to seamlessly meet peak demand.”

When solar photovoltaic exceeds 6 percent of production, the capacity value of additional photovoltaic falls to zero. (Solar thermal power like that produced at Crescent Dunes near Tonopah and Ivanpah power plant in California near Primm have a different generation curve.)

The laws of man seldom take into account the laws of physics and economics.