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  • 2 Minutes of 100% Clean Power in CAISO // Potential UK/South Korea Nuclear Deal // Solar Tariff Probe Delays Coal Plant Retirements

2 Minutes of 100% Clean Power in CAISO // Potential UK/South Korea Nuclear Deal // Solar Tariff Probe Delays Coal Plant Retirements

2 Minutes of 100%* Clean Power in CAISO

California's grid experienced two minutes of nearly completely clean energy last week.

Bloomberg reports, "The Golden State’s main grid ran on 99.87% renewables for about two minutes on Saturday, the California Independent System Operator said in a statement Monday. That broke a previous record of 97.58% that was set on April 3, the grid operator said."

Many renewables advocates were thrilled.

But there's more to the story. Canary Media reports, "[I]f you add in hydropower, which CAISO didn’t count, and nuclear, another source of zero-carbon power, there was enough clean energy to cover more than 100% of demand for three full hours that day."

Here's the rundown on the caveats:

  • "California’s in-state renewable energy production was calculated as a percentage of energy demand after accounting for transmission losses," explains Canary Media.

  • Let's focus on what's excluded in the calculation: demand met by rooftop solar, large hydropower (it does not qualify as renewable for CAISO), and nuclear.

  • Aside from those, LA's Department of Water and Power and the Sacramento Municipal Utility district were not included because CAISO does not serve them. Together, those municipal utilities amount to about 10% of California's electricity sales.

And what about the day outside these two minutes? As you can see, a lot of demand was served by natural gas. About 40%. It should also be noted that gas didn't stop burning even during the near 100% renewables moment.

This was also true when it hit about 95% renewables on the electric grid for four seconds last year.

It's hard to get the confetti out when looking at these two graphs. Or this one, just released by CAISO, which shows just how much natural gas generation has gone up in the state.

California's grid is also under siege by the current drought drying the American West to its bones.

Hopefully, these dark tidings for its grid reliability and clean energy aspirations will be enough to persuade the state to keep the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant running--and perhaps to repeal its nuclear moratorium.

Potential UK/South Korea Nuclear Deal

The UK is talking with South Korea about building nuclear plants in Britain. The UK government wants assistance in pursuing its goal of tripling its installed nuclear capacity by 2050.

"Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng met with state-owned Korea Electric Power Corp. to discuss participation in future projects, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be named because the talks are private," Bloomberg reports.

Boris Johnson has committed the country to revive its stalled-out nuclear industry. Last month, the Prime minister announced that he wants to build as many as eight nuclear plants by 2050 as part of the UK's energy security strategy.

They're going to have to speed things up if they want to hit that goal. "Several projects have failed to get up and running," reports Bloomberg, "and the only new nuclear power station being built--at Hinkley Point in southwest England--isn’t due to come online until 2026."

Hence the need to work with South Korea, which has also started to change its tune about nuclear.

Solar Tariff Probe Delays Coal Plant Retirements

The tariff probe that's investigating whether or not China is skirting duties by selling its solar panels through other Asian countries has ground the solar industry to a halt. It has also stalled the retirement of several coal plants in Indiana.

"Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) announced in its first-quarter 2022 financial results that, due to the uncertainty and delays brought to the solar panel market by the Department of Commerce’s (DOC) investigation into solar cell and module manufacturers in four southeast Asian Countries, it will be delaying the closure of two coal generation plants from 2023 to 2025," reports PV Magazine.

NIPSCO says that most of its solar projects scheduled for completion in 2022-2023 will see delays of six to eighteen months. Indiana was one of the 13 states who took part in the Solar Energy Industries Association's survey on the tariff probe's impact on the solar industry. 100% of Indiana's respondents replied that they were seeing delayed or canceled module supply. PV Magazine reports that the state "also joined Idaho as the two states to have respondents report that 100% of the state’s development pipeline has been delayed by the DOC investigation."

SEIA projects that Indiana will add 6.7 GW of solar to its grid. Half their pipeline is now at risk due to the tariff probe. That's about $2 billion in delayed investment.

But NIPSCO still plans to retire all of its coal plants by 2026-2028. PV Magazine says, "NIPSCO also shares that it is on track to achieve its environmental goals, including a 90% reduction in scope 1 greenhouse gas emissions, relative to 2005 levels, by 2030, and a 50% reduction from 2005 levels in methane emissions from gas mains and services by 2025."

The DOC's tariff investigation has disrupted 42% of the known solar development pipeline.

Conversation Starters

  • The Biden administration has undermined its own goal of increasing domestic mining for critical minerals. The Environmental Protection Agency has told the Army Corps of Engineers not to re-issue a necessary permit to PolyMet’s NorthMet mining project. This comes one month after Biden said he would invoke the Defense Production Act to increase domestic mining for critical minerals.

  • Diesel prices hit a new record at $5.42/gallon yesterday. That's up more than 75% from the year-ago average.

  • US natural gas prices hit about $8/MMBtu yesterday as well. While the market seems unpredictable, a consensus among analysts is emerging: this is likely not the last we'll see of high prices.

Word of the Day

National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC)


An affiliation of the public service commissioners to promote the uniform treatment of members of the railroad, public utilities, and public service commissions of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the territory of the Virgin Islands. (source)

Crom's Blessing

"...a peek at the future: the control room and lab center for an on-wheels, fully automated pulp mill. Innovation like this? Soon. The ceiling? Here today." Meet The Efficacious Systems: Armstrong Ceiling Systems ad, 1966