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Giving Compass' Take:
• At Grist, Sierra Garcia describes how alterations in daily energy usage during quarantine have caused the electricity curve to change its pattern.
• How can we apply what we've learned about our energy use to formulate conservation strategies? What can you do to maintain climate awareness throughout the pandemic?
As hundreds of millions of Americans change their lifestyles to flatten the COVID-19 infection curve, they’re inadvertently shifting energy supply and demand curves too.
On a typical, non-pandemic day, people use a lot of electricity in the mornings before they leave home for work and school, and even more when they return home in the evenings. To match that constantly shifting demand, power operators adjust how much power from conventional sources like coal, natural gas, and pumped hydropower goes onto the grid throughout the day. Plotted on a graph, the amount of power operators need to add to the grid forms a shape called a “camel curve,” with two gentle humps in the morning and evening and a midday dip between.
But when an electric grid gets a lot of power from solar energy, that graph of how much energy needs to be supplied from other sources over the course of the day forms the shape of a duck. Its tail covers the morning, its belly stretches over midday and afternoon, and its neck and head rise abruptly in the evening. That’s because the sun provides a lot of energy at a time when few people need it.
Of course, the exact shape of the net load curve for a particular place differs every day depending on how the wind is blowing, the sun is shining, and people are living. The global COVID-19 pandemic isn’t changing how much solar energy we’re getting, but it’s definitely shifting demand for electricity — and changing the shape of those ducks and camels that show us how much non-solar, non-wind energy we need on the grid throughout the day.
Read the full article about the electricity curve during quarantine by Sierra Garcia at Grist.