Solar energy may help California overcome droughtFebruary 14, 2014
Drought causes shortfall in hydroelectricity production throughout the state
California is currently suffering from one of the worst droughts it has experienced in recent history. The state has long been susceptible to droughts of varying intensity, but this recent drought is beginning to threaten California’s hydroelectricity capabilities. Hydropower accounts for a significant portion of the state’s energy supply, but as water supplies evaporate the state’s ability to generate electrical power through its various hydropower systems is beginning to fall apart. Fortunately, California may have enough solar energy capacity to close the gap left by a lack of hydropower production.
Solar may be able to cover the loss seen in hydropower
The state has been reducing its dependence on hydropower over the past several decades, but hydroelectricity still accounts for approximately 14% of the state’s energy supply. Hydropower systems throughout the state are reporting a shortfall in reservoir levels, meaning that dams and other hydropower systems are unable to produce electrical power at full capacity. Solar energy may be able to help cover the state’s electricity needs as the drought continues.
State taps into solar power in order to satisfy energy demand
California currently boasts of approximately 2,926 megawatts worth of utility-scale solar capacity in operation. Several large-scale solar power facilities have come online in recent months, adding to the state’s solar capacity and reducing its reliance on both hydropower and fossil-fuels. California has begun tapping into these solar power projects in order to cover the losses in its supply of hydroelectricity. The California Independent System Operator, which manages 80% of the state’s energy grid, suggests that solar power could help alleviate some of the energy strain caused by the state’s ongoing drought.
2014 may be a rough year for hydropower due to ongoing drought and other issues
Solar power is not an absolute solution to the state’s current energy problems. The state does not have enough solar capacity currently operational to account for the entirety of its energy demand. The state is likely to focus more heavily on solar power, however, as 2014 is shaping up to be a poor year in terms of hydroelectricity production.