Opinion » Letters

The rest of the story


Believers in solar power, like the author of "Big energy fights solar" (Feb. 10), seem to consistently overlook an important detail: The sun only shines part of the time. According to California Energy Commission data, for 2019 and 2020, the total contribution of all renewables (mostly solar) to the total power demand was stalled at around 23 percent, despite the continued expansion of solar capacity, a steep decline in competing large hydro production, and a deliberate reduction in nuclear production. Renewables' overproduction (power that could not be used at the time it was produced) continued unabated. Most of the overproduction was solar power. Obviously, continued subsidies for solar expansion would be a waste of time and money.

What this also means is that the more than 2,000 schools, 1,000 farms, 300 apartment buildings, and more than a million homes cited as powered directly by the sun ... are only powered by solar and other renewables less than one quarter of the time. The rest of the power has to come from somewhere else. In California, it is mostly natural gas, some large hydro, and Diablo Canyon Power Plant, and when it closes, most of its production will be replaced by natural gas.

For this reason, big energy loves solar power, because it is part-time and inefficient, leaving natural gas not only with a huge share of the energy market, but they get to make even more money by providing backup power for intermittent and often unreliable renewables. This, of course, requires a lot of fracking.

And now, you have the rest of the story.

Mark Henry

San Luis Obispo

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