Many Ca hydro does not count toward resources’ green energy mandates. Should it?
It’s a reasonable concern and something that an audience posed during our present series on “Water and Power” in California. Hydro has its own virtues. It’s clean, once it’s built; creating hydropower creates no considerable greenhouse fuel or any other emissions. Also it’s truly “renewable” provided water moves. But it’s perhaps not without its ecological effects, especially in which big “terminal” dams are involved (the sort that seafood can’t work through).
Actually, condition regulators divide the resource into “large” and “small” hydro, the latter becoming defined as such a thing making 30 megawatts of power or less. Utilities can count little hydro toward their particular mandated green Portfolio Standard (RPS) however the bigger businesses. But the reason why?
Partially it’s because there is currently much hydro on the market. In a wet year, Californians get about 17percent of the electrical energy from hydro, perhaps not counting imports. The RPS was designed to encourage development of new resources, like wind and solar power.
In opposing a recently available costs to count bigger hydro services, The Utility Reform system (TURN), a watchdog non-profit, typed that these types of a reversal:
…would effortlessly decrease the RPS objectives for utilities with current huge hydroelectric generation in their profiles and dramatically weaken the effect associated with RPS system regarding the improvement brand-new green power tasks in California additionally the West.
TURN estimated that switching the guidelines would effortlessly decrease California’s target of 33per cent renewables by 2020, to 30% — also less if resources increased imports of hydropower from neighboring says.
TURN’s experts in addition argued that an over-reliance on hydro could become increasing the retail cost of electricity. That’s perhaps not completely theoretical. At least one report computed included expenses of over a billion dollars whenever resources needed to move to more expensive propane during a recently available dry enchantment.
The land perspective let me reveal that hydro is a vital assistant to new “intermittent” renewables like wind and solar power. Hydro result can be quickly and easily throttled up or down, to help keep the electric grid in balance because the sunshine and wind come and get.
About the writer
Craig is KQED's science editor, focusing on climate, weather, liquid & power problems, with a little seismology thrown within to shake things up. Before their present place, he launched and led the section's award-winning media project, Climate Watch. Craig can be an established writer/producer of television documentaries, with a focus on natural resource issues.