Public Lecture

CANCELLED: Variable Generation, Flexible Demand: The California experience

Dr Fereidoon Sioshansi
President of Menlo Energy Economics


The Australian National University has decided to cancel public events and social gatherings from 16 March to 20 June to minimise the risk of the transmission of COVID-19 among our community and more widely. This additional precaution is also to ensure ANU can keep delivering its essential operations of teaching and research with minimal risk in the face of the rapidly evolving situation. The decision to postpone this event has been not an easy one, however the health and safety of our community is our top priority. More information about event cancellations can be found here.

California is moving to a future of predicting variable renewable generation and determining how best to schedule demand to match it.

Traditionally the power sector predicted demand and dispatched generation to meet it. Utilities, most of whom were vertically integrated and regulated monopolies, maintained a portfolio of plants – base-load, intermediate and peaking – to meet demand as it varied from hour to hour, day to day, and across the seasons. Moreover, demand was a “given,” namely the sum of the load from all electricity-using devices in the network. There was little or no attempt to manage demand, either its quantity or when or where it was consumed. Finally, all consumers bought all the kWhs consumed from the network and paid a regulated bundled tariff.

This paradigm is changing. In places like California, we are moving towards a future where we have to predict variable renewable generation and wondering how best to schedule demand to match it. This is likely to happen in more places as the percentage of renewables approaches higher levels. As the pressure to go zero-net carbon increases, many countries are aiming for 100% renewable electricity generation by 2045-50.

Already, the variability of renewable generation, especially solar and wind, is challenging the ability of grid operators to keep supply and demand in balance. They increasingly rely on flexible generation resources – gas peakers – to maintain the grid’s reliability while investing in storage. There are, however, limits to how viable these techniques will be especially in places like California where all fossil-fueled generation is expected to be phased out. Demand flexibility emerges is among the attractive option but it has remained largely unexplored.

Dr Sioshansi will describe the obvious and the not-so-obvious reasons for this fundamental paradigm shift and its implications for the operability, resilience and security of future networks, focusing on California’s case.

Dr Sioshansi is President of Menlo Energy Economics, a consulting firm based in San Francisco, California, with over 35 years of experience in the electric power sector.

He is the editor and publisher of EEnergy Informer, a monthly newsletter with international circulation, now in its 30th year of publication.

Dr Sioshansi has edited more than a dozen books including Behind and Beyond The Meter: Digitalization, aggregation, optimization, monetization (2020, Academic Press) and Distributed Generation & its implications for the utility industry (2014.)

His professional experience includes working at Southern California Edison Co. (SCE), Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), NERA, and Global Energy Decisions.

Venue Map:

Please note that parking may be difficult - we strongly advise using public transport, taxi, cycling, walking or allowing plenty of time to find a park.

By registering for this event you are also subscribing to our the ANU Climate Change Institute / Energy Change Institute mailing list. You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking on the unsubscribe button at the bottom of any correspondence.

More information

Date & time

Mon 6 Apr 2020, 5.30–6.30pm



Finkel Theatre


Staff, students and public welcome