News and analysis about energy in California with an eye toward renewables.

Record Breaker: California Blows Past 1,500 Megawatt Solar Mark

As of 11:45 am, Monday March 11, 2013 | IMage: California ISO

California quietly set a new solar record on Sunday. At 10:00 am, the state's grid had 1,500 megawatts of solar power entering the grid for the first time ever. But that record didn't last long. An hour later, the solar contribution to the state's grid reached 1,656 megawatts.

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That solar output held again Monday, according to preliminary figures from the California Independent System Operator (CaISO).

All told, on Sunday, California's solar power capacity provided 15,394 megawatt-hours of power to the grid -- enough power for every Californian to keep a 100-watt bulb lit for four hours. Not that that would be the best use of the energy provided, seeing as it was produced while the sun was up.

As we always point out here at ReWire in order to harsh Californians' solar buzz, that record -- while cause for a smile -- still leaves us way behind the undisputed solar world champion, Germany. On a typical day in 2012, Germany generated about 78,000 megawatt hours of solar power, five times our production on Sunday.

Still, our new double-record is good news. When do you think the state will pass 2,000 megawatts of grid-tied solar output? It could be sooner than we expect.

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About the Author

Chris Clarke is a natural history writer and environmental journalist currently at work on a book about the Joshua tree. He lives in Joshua Tree.
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Is there any way to know in more detail the source of the solar power? It affects to what degree this is a cause to celebrate if this is primarily the result of habitat- or farmland-destroying industrial-scale solar coming online, or new rooftop solar.

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Mattie, The California ISO system status page tracks RPS eligible renewables only, it does not account for typical rooftop solar unless those systems are facilities that are contracted/selling energy onto the grid.

PV systems on homes and businesses are typically net metered systems, their capacity is treated by the CAISO as simply a reduction in demand on the system, and not tracked. The good news is these systems are on the increase too. The bad news is the utilities continue to see customer sited generation as a threat.

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Thanks for stepping up with the good info, joaquin!