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.

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    Electricity 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:

    And 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

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  • Charles

     (May 9, 2018)

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

  • beestingz1

     (Feb 20, 2019)

    Talk about a grade school level short.

  • Echo S

     (Feb 3, 2019)

    idunno man... it might the lie if the big midday industry.

  • johnmburt1960

     (May 22, 2018)

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

  • ArBuz Entertainment

     (6 days ago)

    Run runoff electricity Into batteries

  • Robert Morgan

     (May 26, 2018)

    You're solving a broken problem there. What we need to zero-emissions, zero pollution generation that works more than just the 4 hours you have perfect conditions. Solar is a last-century novelty. Breeder Reactor Nuclear is perfected current-gen tech we need to move ahead to. Actual innovation, not stagnant tech from the distant past.

  • Amadeus Reviews Everything

     (May 24, 2018)

    Who put this video together? You completely failed to discuss storage options that can store the solar to reduce and eliminate the peaks... was this funded by coal plants? Seriously one of the least informative videos Vox put out....

  • US

     (Sep 9, 2018)

    tiesto9797 Iirc theres a story in the NYT where they plan to make Lake Mead/Hoover dam exactly that.They already use a similar system in the UK for tv pickup. Theres a youtube video on that. Kinda facepalmy when people assume that current state of battery tech can solve the duck curve right now.Tv Pickup and response to surges in the UK using stored hydro: the Hoover Dam to a Giant Battery:Article:

  • Pri yon Joni

     (May 22, 2018)

    I think it looks more like a goose curve

  • Hari Narayanan

     (Aug 4, 2018)

    Backstroke turtle curve

  • Ken Mason

     (Jul 25, 2018)

    Sorry 'bout that. Just a little jaded over here, having seen so many false calls of "sightings", and all.

  • Martin Schenker

     (May 26, 2018)

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

  • Dolle Dries

     (Mar 12, 2019)

    No there is no simple solution. You got to store over produced energy. Right now that is not possible in such huge numbers.

  • Maestro

     (Aug 29, 2018)

    just use eolic and hydroelectrical energy at night. Not so hard right?

  • Mark Young

     (May 9, 2018)


  • fulcrum 29

     (Nov 6, 2018)

    +genkisudo ironic

  • genkisudo

     (Oct 15, 2018)

    I lost a lot of respect for VOX. They can't answer ANY questions and legitimate complaints on this video, but they can like bullshit comments. You know they are reading it, they are just too biased or stupid to respond.

  • Ross Wheeler

     (May 24, 2018)

    Batteries? There's a ton of new tech coming online for storing power. Tesla has already helped solve this problem in the Australian market.

  • dancchang

     (May 24, 2018)

    This Vox video is really dumb. Isn't the excess power created by solar energy during the day THE SOLE REASON why Tesla is building these gigantic battery power stations all around the world???? It's not like curtailment is a problem with no solution. We have a solution and its very promising.

  • snowtaku1

     (May 24, 2018)

    There are so many energy storage technologies available today (batteries, pumped hydro, compressed air, ...). Shame that you didn't mention any of those solutions. The South Australia Tesla battery pack is a great exemple of a battery system that not only stabilised the grid but is a well generating record benefits!

  • Matthew Gaudet

     (6 days ago)

    +Just a Question i neither lied nor mentioned battries, energy can be stored in many diffrent forms (ie. Thermal energy, kenetic energy, and electrical energy). If you move 1kg of water up 1m then you have spent (1kg*1m*9.8m/s2)=9.8J of energy, if that water was in a cup and does not fall immediately then that energy is effectively stored

  • Matthew Gaudet

     (6 days ago)

    +Just a Question as someone in an electrical engineering technology program he's right. If all that energy went to say filling a water reservoir with a hydro station on it, you could store the energy (in the form of kenetic energy from elevation) for later use

  • Neojhun

     (May 24, 2018)

    Large Scale Energy Storage.Pump Hydro, Gravity Mass Drop, Compressed Air CAES, Liquid Flow Cells.We need to hedge our bets and develop all these technologies soo we have the right solution for every location.