Some wag once wrote to the effect of "Never argue with an idiot; people may not be able to tell which is which." On the other hand, if nobody bothers to school idiots publicly the public may begin to take their nonsense seriously. And on that note....
Over at The Energy Collective a clown calling himself Joe Deely says that the exercise of analyzing California's daily load and generation curves to determine what can actually decarbonize its grid is a fantasy scenario
. This has some very strong suggestions that "political reality" is immutable, and physical reality is the fantasy.
With that in mind, let us take the example handed us: the CAISO RE generation and net demand curves for May 19, 2017
. Solar, wind and hydro are not broken out separately but the latter two are a fairly small part of the peak and total generation for the day, and are obviously 10-15% of the minimum load at most. Solar is the big kahuna in Commiefornia.
With that in mind, I first did a graphical analysis of the daily load curve. I erased the grid lines below the load curve and filled the white space with green:
Per The Gimp's histogram function, 316923 pixels were green. Given the delta of 48 to 915 on the X axis (hour 0-24) and 10 to 464 on the Y axis (32,000 MW to 0), a total consumption of 768,000 MWh would correspond to 393,618 pixels. Given vagaries of the width of lines vs. their centers, this suggests that the consumption for the day was roughly 768000 * (316923 / 393618) = 618358 MWh.
Given the X width of 863 pixels and the variance from 172 (~20,000 MW) to 464 (0 MW) on the Y axis (Δ=292 px), the area of base load is 251,966 px or 491,677 MWh. If the total minimum 24-hr demand was served by 24/7 carbon-free power such as nuclear, the total electric generation would be 79.5% carbon-free.
BUT THAT'S NOT ALL! Nuclear is supposedly hard to ramp down, but that's the characteristic of light-water reactors, not electric output! Nuclear-heated steam, being carbon-free, can be dumped to secondary uses or or waste heat without adding any pollutant emissions whatsoever. So, let us suppose that 20% of peak nuclear power can be dumped and peak nuclear power is 25000 MW (with no carbon-emitting capacity being started until demand rises beyond that). This yields a graph where 291,990 px of area are colored green out of a total of 316923 px of demand, or 92.1%.
California is supposedly striving for 50% or 60% "renewable" power by some year, but with nuclear base load it could already have reached 79.5% emission-free; with a bit of dumping it could have achieved 92.1% emission-free on the specified day. Yes, "renewables" could have eaten into the remaining 7.9%, but would they actually have been important enough to tout? Not really; the existing solar contribution of perhaps 12,000 MW is already twice what appears to be actually required.
If you "blew up" that day's RE contributions so the peak was roughly equal to the demand peak, how much demand would you have left? After some fiddling with images, I was able to paste the expanded RE curve over the demand curve and color in the un-met demand areas in blue:
If I'm doing my pixel-counting correctly, 112148 pixels have zero green component (the green, gray and white will not); this comes to 28.5% of demand un-meetable by unreliable RE even on the record day. Even assuming that the overnight RE generation is also scaled up by a substantial factor, this falls well short of the all-nuclear baseload scenario at just 20.5% of demand un-met by carbon-free sources.
Failing to plan to meet the evening and overnight demand with carbon-free generation is planning to fail. It cannot be done with "renewables", period; physical reality says no. It is physically possible to achieve this with nuclear power, whether the political reality allows it or not.
"Renewables" in California, as elsewhere, are greenwashing. If the so-called "environmental" organizations (and eveyone else) actually cared about CO2
emissions, they would be pushing nuclear energy as hard as they could. Anyone who is anti-nuclear is anti-environment.