The 'duck curve' is solar energy's greatest challenge

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  • Published on:  Wednesday, May 9, 2018
  • Renewables require change in the energy supply chain.Subscribe to our channel! is incredibly difficult to store, so grid operators have to generate it at the exact moment it is demanded. In order to do this, they create incredibly accurate models of the total electric loads, that is how much energy will be consumed on a given day. But as utilities started to produce more energy from renewable sources like solar, the models started to shift as well.California researchers discovered a peculiarity in their state’s electric load curves, that started to look more and more like a duck. And that duck shaped chart highlights the greatest challenge to solar energy growth in the US.Vox writer David Roberts has been covering the issue for a few years now. You can read some of his past explainers on the duck curve, and its solutions at the links below: if you would like to read some of the source material used in the video above, you can check those out here: is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Check out our full video catalog: Vox on Facebook: Twitter:


  • johnmburt1960
    johnmburt1960  a years ago +1239

    So, we need to improve electricity storage, got it.

  • Val Sankar
    Val Sankar  2 months ago +133

    lol only vox could do a video on solar energy and not ever say the word 'battery'

  • ZiPolishHammer
    ZiPolishHammer  3 months ago +610

    "They found that the sun produces the most energy at midday."
    Wait, really? Who would've thunk it. That's unbelievable.

  • Jake M
    Jake M  3 months ago +112

    In England, we have a type of electricity pricing called “economy 7” where electricity overnight is at half price.
    This led to a large rise in storage heaters (radiators that heat up clay bricks during the night and release the heat during the day).
    People also use timer plugs to run washing machine and dishwashers overnight to take advantage of this.
    Rather than waste solar, surely it would make sense to offer a similar incentive near midday?! People will modify their electricity demands when there’s the potential to save money!

  • Gabe Shakour
    Gabe Shakour  3 months ago +128

    Should mention how the price of batteries used for storage fell by over 30% in just the past year.

  • Craig Firman
    Craig Firman  2 months ago +16

    Didn’t they solve this in Spain? A kind of solar power plant that heats up salt to extreme degrees then uses that heat to generate electricity long into the night. But the hydro pump back idea works too, using excess electricity to pump water back up hydropower dams then sending it back down at night. Some dams already do that

  • Harish Bhagat
    Harish Bhagat  3 months ago +73

    Hopefully we'll quack the problem someday.

  • Si SI
    Si SI  3 months ago +122

    nice video but it puts the needs of coal plant and contractors above anything else.
    Many hydro power plants use the excess of renewable energy to pump water back into the damn and reuse it at night.

  • notagoon695
    notagoon695  3 months ago +94

    Big tower. Use extra power to pump water to the top. Keep the water there. Release water at night, spinning a turbine thus creating power. Ooooooooooooooooo

  • Marco P
    Marco P  2 months ago +18

    germans answer "pump speicher kraftwerk"
    using midday overpower pumping water uphill.
    when more electricity is needed, this water used to create new electricity

  • Martin Schenker
    Martin Schenker  a years ago +278

    So silly Video! There are solutions. Why not mention them?

  • Nandor Nagyilles
    Nandor Nagyilles  2 months ago +8

    He should have mentioned that we can store excess energy from midday and use it when demands are higher via hydroelectric power plants. You pump water to the reservoir when you have excess power and release it when you have high demand.thid helps smooth the curve out

  • Mr. Ramirez
    Mr. Ramirez  3 months ago +30

    One day I will go solar and dump my utility company. they have a monopoly.

  • Charles
    Charles  a years ago +2242

    “The sun produces the most energy at midday” wow.

  • Koh Wei Jian
    Koh Wei Jian  2 months ago +9

    Ok, time to build the accumulator array. - Factorio player

  • T Rev
    T Rev  3 months ago +15

    "They found that the sun produces the most energy at midday"
    Looks like we've got so real Einsteins working in this project

  • PsychyFunkyMonkey
    PsychyFunkyMonkey  2 months ago +9

    maybe they can produce their solar energy a few time zones away?

  • tkjho
    tkjho  3 months ago +6

    just cut the electricity rate from 10am-4pm and have people do their laundry and recharge their electric cars etc. during this period to use up the excess capacity

  • Mi
    Mi  a years ago +2370

    Praise the sun

  • Ricardo Blanco
    Ricardo Blanco  2 months ago +4

    Sounds like coal companies are being salty over electric plants.