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.
“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.
Image Credits: CalSO