Smoke significantly reduced overall generation, but the biggest issue is not the average reduction but the multi day peak reductions. Some of these were over 50% for several days measured over the entire state. This gap in generation from intermittency was covered by natural gas generation, but in the near future, when solar is the dominant form of generation and gas has been reduced or eliminated this will cause blackouts and severe disruption.
Facing up to this reality will mean keeping natural gas in the short term and massively overbuilding wind, out of state solar and long distance transmission in the long term. As I discussed in a previous post this can be simply and accurately modelled by reducing the capacity factor and estimating the resulting higher cost of electricity to consumers. The electricity cost will be several multiples of today's cost of electricity.
Combine this high cost with the increased demand for electricity from an economy with electrified car transportation and electrified heat pump domestic and commercial heating and you have a severe economic problem that even rich California will not be able to afford. Californian’s spend about 10% of GDP on all energy today. An electrified California with intermittent wind, solar and batteries will have to spend a lot more of its GDP on electricity. I cannot see how adjusting to even 20% of GDP will be politically acceptable, and more than 20% may be necessary.
This gets me to my usual final word. Stratosolar electricity would cost LESS than today's electricity and an affordable smaller fraction of GDP. It is economically viable. Ground based intermittent solar is not.
By Edmund Kelly