California girls aren’t the only things that are melting popsicles this spring.
This new report shows that the beautiful, blazin’ California sun was so strong on the state’s solar panels last month, that – for the first time ever – electricity prices dropped into the negative.
The data, which was released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, showed that the solar power harnessed by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) accounted for almost 40% of the net amount of electricity used between 11AM and 2PM.
These record-breaking numbers are due largely in part to an almost 50% growth in utility-scale solar photovoltaic installed capacity in 2016, with about 5.4 gigawatts of net-metered distributed solar capacity recorded in December.
Unfortunately, this does not mean that Californian consumers will see an especially large drop in utility prices since the price depends on the averaged value – but the ever-expanding solar energy market is still definitely worth celebrating.
On July 12, several large solar plants in the Golden State briefly produced a record-breaking 8,030 megawatts of electricity, generating enough energy to power over 6 million homes. On that day in particular, the generated power was nearly twice the amount of solar energy produced two years previously — and that is only counting the electricity produced at plants. Thousands of rooftop solar panels around the state have the capacity to produce an additional 50% of that record amount.
This solar production record demonstrates that the state is making significant strides toward meeting the state’s goal of reaching 33% renewables by 2020.
Electricity demand in California also tends to peak during the summer months. However, in late winter and early spring, demand is at its annual minimum, but solar output, while not at its highest, is increasing as the days grow longer and the sun gets higher in the sky. Although the sun is at a similar angle in September and October, electricity demand is still relatively high, leading to lower solar generation shares than seen in March.