California law requires that the state obtain 33 percent of its electricity from renewable resources by 2020. A new report prepared jointly by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation and the California Independent System Operator Corporation describes the potential operating challenges of integrating variable sources of power into the state’s electricity system, which supports the ninth-largest economy in the world.
NERC and CISO say that “a 33-percent mix of renewables will make it difficult for the system operator to balance supply and demand in real time unless there are changes to existing practices,” and goes on to describe their recommendations. One of them is for generators in California to build or keep in service flexible power plants like natural gas-fired units that can quickly ramp up and down in response to changes in renewable power output.
Texas has reached a similar conclusion and pegged natgas as a tool to achieve a low-carbon economy. CISO chief Steve Berberich says:
Renewable generation provides a great basis for greening the grid and reducing the electric industry’s greenhouse gas footprint. Their intermittency can be supported by a clean and flexible gas generation fleet, which California is currently transitioning to.The Golden State is again leading the nation and demonstrating wise use of natural gas to propel renewable energy, and build a short bridge to a renewables-based future. We need similar national energy policies - and a requirement for CCS for natgas plants.