> If you were correct that every kilowatt-hour sold by a solar facility has to be "thrown away," or discharged into the ground, then you would also be correct that that's not a sustainable business model
Very good, let's start from the point where we agree. I think you'd also agree that if they are forced to give something that has a cost of production (evening energy) in exchange for any significant amount of worthless trash, that's not sustainable. In other words, it doesn't matter if it's ALL of the solar energy being thrown away, or some significant percentage. Any energy in excess of what's being sold is worthless, and being forced to pay for something that is worthless is stupid. Agreed? Please let me know if we're on the same point up until this point.
We can also probably agree that at noon, a solar installation can make a significant amount of power, say around 4kW.
We can also agree that most people aren't using 4kW at home from 11AM-2PM, when they aren't even at home, they're at work.
So the solar will be capturing significantly more energy than they are using during those hours. Agreed so far? Please let me know.
In fact, I'd say that at noon, with nobody home, they are probably using less than 1kW, while producing 4kW, so they are producing four times as much as they use. Sound about right?
So if most people's solar electric systems were capturing more energy than they are using at the time, that means the same is true in aggregate, correct?
Most people generating more than they use at noon means that the neighborhood is generating more than it uses at noon. That means that in total, solar would be generating more at noon than is being used at noon. Therefore, some of it needs to be thrown away at noon. Since the system generates 4kW while usage is less than 1 kW, that means that if one 25% of houses have solar, we'd being throwing away electricity, agreed? And the utilities would be forced to pay for electricity that they then have to pay to throw away.
on GoSolarCalifornia.ca.gov, the California Public Utilities Commission says:
Most smaller electric customers have simple bidirectional meters-capable of spinning backwards to record energy flowing from their system
the customer has to pay only for the net amount of electricity used from the utility over-and-above the amount of electricity generated by their solar system
That's a very important point. It's net METERING, not net billing. It's based on the net amount of electricity from a meter that spins backwards, NOT the net amount of dollars. If they produce 40 kWh (at noon) and use 40 kWh (at night), they are billed zero. You might want to re-read those two sentences explaining how the California system works, because that's important.
> If they are selling power at, say, a wholesale rate of $0.02 per kilowatt-hour, and buying power at a retail rate of $0.12 per kilowatt-hour
That would make sense, so that's why the utilities are asking for it to be done that way. That's not how it's done in California, though. As quoted from the California regulators, if your solar system produces 1 kW at noon and you use 1 kW at 6:00 PM, you pay zero.
If we've gotten to this point, we've agreed that if 25% of houses have solar, they will produce more energy than is being used, so some will be thrown away. The value of noon energy will be close to zero, or even negative since it costs money to run the heavier infrastructure to carry more power to a place that it can be safely burned off without running afoul of California's environmental controls. (Huge electrical arcs produce ozone, noise, and all kinds of other things that scare hippies).
So once 25% of people participate, the noon energy is practically worthless, but per Ca PUC, utilities have to trade it 1 for 1 for evening electricity, and it costs them money to generate and distribute electricity in the evening. Agreed?
Of course, RIGHT NOW, 25% of houses don't have solar. I've said repeatedly that it's not a significant problem right now, but would become a real problem if most houses were doing net metering.