LA is going to get cheap nighttime power from a massive solar and battery array in the Mojave

LA's next source of energy: a massive solar panel and lithium battery array in the Mojave, operated by 8minute Solar Energy, and capable of supplying 6-7% of the city's energy budget, with four hours of nighttime use. It will cost an eye-poppingly low $0.03.3/kWh, cheaper than natural gas.

The otherwise unambiguously good news has one sore-spot: it was opposed by LA Water and Power workers' unions, who are upset that the natural gas plants where their members work are being decommissioned by the city.

It's a perfect example of why the Green New Deal is so right to put the emphasis on working with energy sector workers to ensure that they have good jobs through the green transition. Union workers don't want their kids to inherit a world blasted by climate change, but they also don't want their kids to grow up in poverty thanks to mass layoffs from changes in how we generate power.

The reality is that climate change remediation is going to take all the working hours we have, for generations to come. There are jobs for everyone here.

Keynes once suggested that we could power the economy by paying half of the unemployed people to dig holes and the other half to fill them in. Well, our ancestors spend 100 years getting paid to dig holes to release fossil fuels, and our descendants will have full employment for 200 years capturing and that carbon and putting it back in the ground (and cleaning up the mess it made). There is no reason that the green transition shouldn't also be a just one.

Los Angeles already gets about one-third of its electricity from renewable sources. But California law requires 100% climate-friendly energy by 2045, a target that will force utilities and local governments to do more than keep buying low-cost solar and wind power.

California frequently produces more solar energy than it can use during the middle of the day, then fires up gas plants in the evening to meet electricity demand after sundown.

DWP officials say they’re shifting their attention to banking clean energy for nighttime use, with projects such as Eland.

“Any renewable energy project with solar, we’re looking to pair it with storage. We’re not looking for any solar by itself,” Reiko Kerr, the DWP’s senior assistant general manager for power system engineering, said in an interview this year.

Los Angeles OKs a deal for record-cheap solar power and battery storage [Sammy Roth/LA Times]

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(Image: Marshall Astor from San Pedro, United States, CC BY-SA, modified)