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Wednesday Mar 22, 2023   
Earlier this month the first new nuclear plant in the US in 7 years reached initial criticality, meaning operators have successfully created a nuclear reaction and produced heat needed for creating electricity. The plant, Vogtle Unit 3 in Georgia, won’t be fully online until May or June, but it’s a huge step for a project that experienced several costly delays. Once fully online, Unit 3 will be able to contribute 1.1 GW of generation to the grid. You can keep track of the ramping on of the new unit by subscribing to EnergyGPS’s daily nuclear outage reports which lists outages for nuclear plants across the country. Figure 1 | Vogtle Unit 1 and Unit 3 Outages (March 14 – 21) Other older nuclear plants are attempting to stick around despite looming or passed ... » read more
Tuesday Mar 21, 2023   
Over the past year, the Lower 48 natural gas production has grown in response to the elevation in pricing that was experienced worldwide. Most of the change in field receipts was posted in the Haynesville and Permian Basins with the latter correlated to the increase in crude oil production. North of the US Border, the production levels took advantage of the higher prices mentioned along with the overall capacity increases tied to pipes located in Western Canada to that of the Pacific Northwest. This has led the region to hit new all-time highs in both British Columbia and Alberta where the production level hit 18.5 BCF over the weekend. When you compared it to last year, the current level is running roughly 8% higher due to the fact that the Alberta numbers have displayed ... » read more
Monday Mar 20, 2023   
California is starting to look like the days of old when it comes to the renewable curtailments that are showing up over the weekend.  The factors that play into curtailments range from thermal generators needing to stay on during the midday so the megawatts can be produced for the evening ramp period, a hydro landscape that continues its upward trajectory when it comes to snowpack and stream flows, and the simple fact that when wind shows up there is nothing to stop the system from slicing into the solar generation volume. Figure 1 | CAISO Solar Curtailments - Year on Year Comparison Starting with the thermal variable, this is something that has been in play for some time given the imports from the Pacific Northwest have not been showing up (for multiple reasons).  The lack of ... » read more
Friday Mar 17, 2023   
A big question at the front of our minds at the Energy GPS headquarters is the solar capture ratio in ERCOT over the next couple of years. The solar capture ratio for a year is calculated by taking the solar-weighted price for the entire year and dividing that by the simple average price for the entire year, where the simple average price includes all 8,760 hours in the year. With low levels of solar penetration, the solar capture ratio exceeds 100%. As the solar penetration rate increases, the capture ratio should go down. In the CAISO, the solar penetration rate is 34% and the capture ratio is about 68%. In every other market in the United States, the solar penetration rate is below 5%. ERCOT has been installing solar at a brisk clip. The million dollar question is whether the ... » read more
Thursday Mar 16, 2023   
The repeated storm systems in the western United States have been a persistent story all winter as the rains have buffeted California over and over again.  It has been a marked change from the norm of the past several years as we have typically described California as a “two-storm” or a “three-storm” state where a handful of precipitation events during the winter usually suffice to refill the reservoirs and complete the build-up of snow in the mountains that will feed the state’s hydro system throughout the spring and summer.  The 2023 water year has flatly refused to stop at just two or three storms with a series of atmospheric river events that have pushed total system storage to their highest levels since the summer of 2021 and total snowpack to ... » read more
Wednesday Mar 15, 2023   
Recent data released from ERCOT puts operational battery capacity over 2.8 GW yet actual dispatch to the grid remains much lower. The highest discharge for the ERCOT fleet in the last four months didn’t even hit 0.4 GW, let alone 2.4 GW. The figure below shows an average daily profile for the last four months. Note that March only includes the first seven days. On an average day this February peak discharge occurred in both the morning and evening ramps, totaling less than 170 MW for each peak. This March is only slightly higher with the morning peak around 190 MW. To understand this discrepancy between stated capacity and actual dispatch to the grid, we’ll looked at the more developed CAISO battery fleet, apply lessons learned there and estimate when this ... » read more
Tuesday Mar 14, 2023   
There are just a couple of weeks in the winter withdrawal season. Currently the EIA is reporting Lower 48 natural gas inventory at 2 TCF which is .5 TCF higher than this time last year. But that does not tell the whole story. The lack of heating load has left inventory well above normal especially in the South Central and East. Most of the past five months have disappointed as record warmth reduced storage draws to half of what they would historically record. The effect has dragged the NYMEX natural gas pricing down from $7 in November to $2.61 as of yesterday's close. But if you look at the break out in the West it tells an entirely different reality. The West has experienced one of the coldest winters in the past three decades keeping heating load elevated. Combine it with a ... » read more
Monday Mar 13, 2023   
The CAISO day-ahead auction clears continue down the path of widening the NP-SP heavy load spread as the Panoche_230_Gates nomogram displays binding to the tune of over $1,000 at its peak during the midday block of hours. Figure 1 | CAISO Day-Ahead Nomogram Binding Constraints – Hourly The figure above displays the CAISO Day-Ahead nomogram constraints driving the current price action for both the SP15 and the Palo Verde nodes.  The two that stick out as of late is the one mentioned above as it drives a wedge into the SP15 hourly price signal while the other nomogram is that of the Devers_500_Devers_230kV line as it is impacting the early morning ramp period and drifts into the midday.  For Thursday, March 9th 2023, both picked up a head of steam where the only saving ... » read more
Friday Mar 10, 2023   
Author: Andrew Kasius When I was younger, I spent many formative years delivering morning newspapers.  I’d sling that bag over my shoulder, stuff my bike baskets, day in and day out, and head into the dark and cold and deliver the news.  And then, at week’s end, go collecting my route and get my well-earned $1.25!   In retrospect, although this feels like it was Dickensian-esque child labor, I remain partial and loyal to local news providers.   Figure 1| Newspaper Boy with Schwinn Stingray, Banana Seat and Baskets One recent story, local to where I live, caught my eye that I wanted to share with our readers.  On a local level, it’s a significant economic development story and on the regional and national level, it highlights the challenges ... » read more
Thursday Mar 9, 2023   
The state of California is one of the primary pioneers of renewable energy in the United States.  We are used to analyzing and discussing CAISO renewables regularly, but in California our discussions of renewables tend to revolve around solar and wind with a combined penetration level of over one-third (i.e. wind and solar generation accounts for over one-third of all annual load in CAISO), along with the swiftly rising battery storage component of the CAISO supply stack.  This winter the conversation has changed to push another renewable resource in California to the forefront—hydro power.  We delved into each renewable component in our latest Renewable Monthly Newsletter, “February 2023 – East/West Divide”. California and the West experienced a ... » read more
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