Opinion: Powering California’s future: What role does natural gas play as we move toward nearly GHG-free electricity?

“The core issue we must grapple with is that even in our most aggressive emissions reduction scenarios, natural gas is very much present in our electric portfolio in 2030.

For owners of power plants fueled by natural gas, an efficient daily operation in response to this market, in reality, has meant ramping down to near zero during the middle of the day and being able to ramp up as the sun sets and their capacity is needed for late afternoon and evening loads.

This means that during times of abundant wind and solar, these plants have already been largely displaced and are no longer necessary for baseload power. Operating this way, they continue to meet the grid’s evolving needs by ramping up to fill in the gaps when renewable energy production is low. One important conclusion from our modeling results is that for the natural gas fleet to perform this role would not compromise our greenhouse gas emission reduction commitments.”

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