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California Rolling Blackouts and Solar Energy

California Rolling Blackouts and Solar Energy

It’s 106 degrees Fahrenheit outside and all of the sudden, the air conditioner and fans in your house begin to power down. What do you do?

What is a "rolling blackout?"

Rolling blackouts occur when there is high energy demands. The agency governing the power grid will turn off the power supply to certain areas and then turn it back on. The blackouts will occur in different locations, hence “rolling.” 

In August 2020, California experienced rolling blackouts. This meant that refrigerators, air conditioners, medical equipment and landlines or phone chargers were inoperable. All of the “what-ifs” suddenly begin to surface. 

  • What if someone is dependent on medication that requires refrigeration? No electricity from the power grid? The medication goes bad. 
  • What if someone was breaking into the house and the phone was dead? No electricity from the power grid? People could lose their possessions, let alone be seriously injured. 
  • What if your elderly grandmother was in a small home with the temperature steadily rising to 90 degrees Fahrenheit and above? No electricity from the power gridThe air conditioning will go out and older adults have a significantly higher chance of heat-related illnesses, including heat stroke. 

California has been known to experience droughts and heat waves. However, just within the past 10 years, Southern California has experienced an average temperature increase of three degrees Fahrenheit. This is attributed to carbon dioxide equivalent emissions. The heat waves, droughts and wildfires are just getting worse. When the temperature increases, more people use electricity as they work to keep their homes cool. 

With this in mind, these blackouts may become more commonplace.  

It is important to keep in mind that the rolling blackouts are necessary in order to prevent uncontrolled electricity outages. Losing power unexpectedly in a hospital could result in an unpredictable degree of harm. 

So, what can Californians do?

California is already on the right track when it comes to combating the effects of climate change. A climate law was passed in 2018 that states in 2045, CA will be “zero-carbon.” However, this will not be an easy feat.  

So, if California is doing it right, why were there blackouts?

Although California is increasing its renewable energy infrastructure, renewable energy sources can be unpredictable. The wind may not be strong one day, or the sky may be cloudy. However, we can’t blame the Earth’s natural processes for our air conditioners shutting down. In only one hour, the amount of sunlight that reaches the Earth’s surface could sustain the energy requirements of humans for over a year. The amount of infrastructure dedicated to renewable energy production is just not enough to sustain the population of California during a heat wave.  

Solar energy makes sense in US

What is needed is a way to store the energy produced by renewable sources.

This is where battery storage comes into play. Sometimes solar panels can produce more energy than irequired, like during the later afternoon in California. Solar panels without a battery will send this excess to the power grid and credits will be earned. Read more about net metering hereThis means that when the solar panels are not producing the amount of energy needed, resources will be pulled from the power grid.  

This will not work if there is a blackout. Solar batteries are a good back-up plan. When more energy is produced than needed, the solar panels can store the excess in the battery storage. After this is charged, it will send any further energy to the grid and you will earn credits. What this solar battery does is ensure that you have power, even during a blackout, since you won’t have to pull energy from the grid.  

This means that the medications will be refrigerated, you can call 911 if someone is breaking into your home, and grandma can relax in her 70-degree Fahrenheit apartment.  

We are ready to help you prepare for a blackout. Contact us to learn more!

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