California Sets New Record For Winter Solar Power Generation

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California just recently passed the milestone of 1 GW of solar power production (in August). And now it has just surpassed another milestone — it nearly reached that peak August generation level during the week of the Winter Solstice, which is the least-sunny time of the year, setting a new winter solar power generation record.

California solar power generation

“On Wednesday, December 19, the CaISO’s preliminary figures for renewable energy output, which are displayed in the chart at the top of this post, indicated that for Wednesday’s solar output reached a peak somewhere between 950 and 1,000 megawatts at around 10:30 a.m., and held there until just after 1:00 p.m.”

While that isn’t really a ton of energy, it’s an important milestone because of the time of year. The sun is lower in the sky than at any other time of year, which means that there is much less solar energy available for solar panels to utilize.

Of course, the underlying point is that California’s solar energy generating capacity has grown significantly since the August record was set. And compared to last year, the growth is very impressive — in December 2011, there was a maximum output of just 200 MW of solar power production.

“That record winter output is pretty much all photovoltaic power, by the way,” KCET writes. “CaISO has recently started listing PV and solar thermal’s contributions to the grid separately, and solar thermal’s contribution is about a hundredth that of PV at the moment.”

That growth is expected to continue or even increase in 2013, which is good because a rapid phaseout of fossil fuels is neccissary to avoid the worst effects of future climate change according to the vast majority of climate scientists.

Source: KCET
Image Credits: CalSO

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

James Ayre has 4830 posts and counting. See all posts by James Ayre

20 thoughts on “California Sets New Record For Winter Solar Power Generation

  • Today solar peaked close to 6000 MW in Germany 😉

    But at this time of the year it also often peaks just above 1 GW…

    • Ah, you don’t have to rub it in!

      • Sorry. 😉
        I will be very happy once CA & the US surpasses Germany in Solar. I hope it won’t take too long, I know you can & will do it… the sun sure is on your side.

        • Sun is on our side, its those pesky old boys in DC that are standing in the way.

        • Hard to imagine at this time… but guess it will happen eventually.

  • Awesome, race is now on!
    Report from Ontario and China?

  • Forget climate change. Rapid depletion of fossil fuels is the real elephant in the room. As peak oil was passed in 2006 and due to constant exponentially increasing consumption we have just three years left before we hit the oil cliff…

    • Peak oil was canceled. Oil cliff averted.

      Didn’t you get the memo from the Mayans?

      • You do understand the concept of exponential consumption of a finite resource, right?

        The math is incontrovertible. Even your own President has acknowledged that you face an energy shortage. Just that no one in American politics wants to admit that peak oil is a serious problem.

        Climate change has become the official publicly acceptable mantra.

        BTW, the only good thing about reaching the oil cliff is that we run out of oil to burn for fuel which will have an immediate negative impact on CO2 emmissions. So when we do hit the oil cliff we will also mitigate climate change.

        Just not looking forward to the nuclear wars that Israel and America will have with each other over the remaining reserves so they can keep the military machine fuelled up, so that the military machine can do more war, so that people can keep working for the military machine, so that the military machine can do more war… Doh!

        • Why don’t you spend some time at The Oil Drum, where at one time the idea of peak oil ruled supreme?

          What you’ll find there is a more realistic appraisal of worldwide oil and perhaps start to understand that there is no oil cliff in our near future.

          Perhaps they can convince you to douse your hair fire….

          • Peak oil arrived and went and now we are in the decline of the fossil reserves. Hence the price of fuel has climbed consistently for the past decade and will continue on that path as inflation from the Fed printing unlimited amounts of cash pushes up the global cost of living and lowers the value of the petro dollar. Combined with energy negative reserves becoming ever more prominent in the total mix and hence harder to extract oil for a profit, the decline of Ghawar, and the insistence from Israel to start a Nuclear war with Iran and we have the makings of a perfect catastrophe on a global scale.

            For several reasons it suits the petro monarchies to lie about their actual reserves and pretend that they have more left than they really do. However they will scale up their internal alternative (solar) energy infrastructure just like China has done while attempting to keep the oil flowing to the global market to pay for the transition to Solar infrastructure.

            That doesn’t help the US of A because America’s leaders have already failed to make the necessary move to the solar economy on a scale that will allow it’s citizens to keep living the energy intensive life they are used to. Over the next 5 years that is going to be plainly obvious and for many people it already is because they can’t get work or put food on the table due to the cost of living.

            The oil cliff is definitely approaching and the erroneous insistence that oil will last for the next 30+ years is based on biased myth manufactured by the military industrial media machine rather than solid fact grounded in geophysical science.

          • Hope you’re having a nice Christmas….

    • We reached peak oil around 2006 but we haven’t had exponentially increasing consumption since then, as these two things aren’t really compatible. What has happened is crude oil extraction is down, but bitumin and oil sand extraction is up, resulting in a fairly constant production rate for liquid fossil fuel products over the past six years. Hopefully world extraction of oil, bitumin, and oil sands will soon decline due to demand destruction.

      • Only America hasn’t experienced exponential increase in consumption since 2006. The world as a whole is still consuming at an exponentially increasing rate. China hasn’t peaked yet.

        • US heating oil peaked in 1996. Use is down over 40%.

          Overall oil usage peaked in 2005 (long before the recession) and is now down 10% from that level.

          World oil use has not been growing at an exponential rate. Actually at a very small single digit percentage rate. 1.3% per year from 2000 to 2010.

        • So you are saying that we reached peak oil in 2006 and since then we have been consuming oil at an exponentially increasing rate. That’s a neat trick. What else did they teach you at Hogwarts?

          • Global oil consumption has been consistently rising at an exponential rate since oil became the energy source of choice over 120 years ago. However it is tailing off now as we are well past peak oil. The officially accepted peak was in 2006 but if you ask one of the few geophysicists who helped map the worlds oil reserves in the first place (there are less than 200 0f them still alive) they will tell you that peak oil was really in 2000.

            It’s clear that since peak oil was reached the amount of energy available to consume from oil has been in decline even with the continuing rise of the rate of consumption. This is because each barrel of petroleum produced in the past (say in the 1960’s) took much less energy to produce than a barrel of petroleum produced today. Also the grade of crude oil produced today is much lower than that of the 60’s, and that was lower than of the 1920’s. In other words, the grade and the net energy produced per barrel has been declining since the start of the petroleum era. Meanwhile the population and demand has been increasing exponentially. We are now slightly past the point were the net energy produced is insufficient to sustain present populations. We are now at the ‘shoulder’ where net energy per barrel of petroluem (including natural gas) falls off very rapidly.

          • So are you saying it is possible for oil production to increase after it has peaked? Doesn’t that sound a bit odd to you?

  • Getting there. We need to sprint to 10 GW in California.

  • this is out of how much installed capacity?

Comments are closed.