The 'duck curve' is solar energy's Why Japan has so many vending machines 5 months ago   03:58

Renewables require change in the energy supply chain.

Subscribe to our channel!

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

Watch our full video catalog:
Follow Vox on Facebook:
Or Twitter:

Comments 5521 Comments

Keaton Bonner
Wtf why are we throwing away left over power why not store it in batterys or use it somehow or sell it off or something??
Matthew Gaudet i feel i should leave this here for all the people still talking about betteries
Just a Question
Or maybe they should all just work together and have renewable energy supply peak until it runs out and have fossil fuel do whatever is left behind.
Johnny Rubtug
Ok so we need to update the grid so we can all survive... we’re doomed.
David Webster
Stop Trolling people: This video is more about the problem juggling existing power stations with solar...not to state the obvious that solar is used more during the day.
Erwan T
have they never heard of teslas batteries?
Semir Fetic
interesting points ,if anyone else wants to learn about how much solar energy do i need for my home try Magonsi Solar System Expert ( search on google ) ? Ive heard some super things about it and my colleague got amazing results with it.
solutions: Store the energy
Caine Mac
This video is so banal and scientifically superficial. I expect better from Vox.
P Ian
The opponents of the solar electricity like to point to the so called “duck curve” and point to one specially chosen from California and from the end of March (example: 31 of March as here). They do not take a “duck curve” from December, January, February, July, August and even not from October. October and March are months when in California very little cooling or heating is needed, so the solar has relatively strongest possible effect compared to the other months. In March the Sun light is stronger than in October – thus the end of March in California can provide the best example of “duck curve” and the next step they do is to generalize the March example as something typical.

Despite the exaggerations the effect is real, the problem is real – it has to be recognized and addressed.

To solve the problem energy storage, energy sources diversification, and electricity transmission across all available time-zones are definitely needed as a complete solution.

But there are internal tools inside the Photo Voltaic (PV) electricity production itself that can reduce the “duck curve” problem:

I think we need to introduce a concept: statistical distribution of the individual angular orientations of the solar panel within a neighborhood (branch of electric grid) of different scales. In are simple words – we need solar panels on east and especially on west slopes of the roofs (west - to cover late afternoon air conditioning and the evening peck demand). Orientation would mean azimuth and elevation/altitude. Then a vector is assigned with a magnitude equal to the power rating of the PV panel, shadow coefficient could be introduced. The rest would be choosing unit vectors of preferable orientations and statistics of dot-products with them.

The Best: Variable electricity rate is one possible market mechanism that I personally prefer.
Fees on the angular orientation that produces most kW-hours (and within some solid angle around it) and/or incentives for peak-demand covering orientations is another way, but then there is a question of shadows from other buildings and trees - too complicated.
Database with statistics of the solar panel orientations in a given grid – easy to measure: the map of my car knows the orientation of the car in a horizontal plane. A smart phone can measure a tilt angle.
Incentive-disincentive approach to time of day of electric vehicle charging to help the balancing of the electric grid, smart grid that can interacting with cars; time of day rate of electricity consumption too.
Matthias Liszt
What about a global grid or using solar energy for water electrolysis etc. ?
Dominic dos Santos
this is one of those gas company sponsored videos
Captain Green Beard's Cove
They say new solid state rechargeable batteries, such as Sodium -Glass, or similar technologies should be available soon. Maybe they will make it possible to store more of the Sun's energy for later.
jonathan greenawalt
The USPS is in need of new mail delivery vehicles and if they used electric mail carriers, the batteries can be used as the first integrated power grid storage for those trucks not in current daily use. The trucks in difficult areas can then be equipped with AWD vs FWD for those weather stricken and harder to reach areas. Since it is our government I dont expect the highest quality of all season tires to be placed on the mail carrier trucks and therefore the added benefit AWD is that much more pronounced.
Yi Tan
constructing a big grid between east and south sphere
My idea is to pump water up a mountain during the day and build a dam there, to release the water at night
Before everyone points to the South Australia Tesla battery, please understand that is more for frequency regulation than overnight storage. It can provide around 1.3 hrs of power, not a full night
simple store solar energy as hot water and later use its heat to generate energy using a sterling engine it can give at least 2-3 hours energy in the evening when power requires most.... or simply down the cost of batteries and store the energy to use at evening
John Feesey
What the duck ? :P
Add Reply

Why Japan has so many vending machines The 'duck curve' is solar energy's 5 months ago   04:47

What vending machines can teach you about this country

Subscribe to the Vox Borders newsletter for weekly updates:

Follow Johnny for more photos and videos from his travels around the globe.
Facebook: Instagram:

While in Japan I noticed vending machines everywhere. Looking into it a little deeper a discovered that there's a very interesting answer to why Japan has so many vending machines. It's an economic story but it's also a story about how Japanese society values robotics and automation.

I even found a business card vending machine:

Vox Borders is a new international series focused on telling the human stories that emerge from lines on the map. Johnny will travel to six border locations to produce a final set of documentaries. While he travels he'll release dispatches on YouTube and Facebook documenting his experiences. Learn more: is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Check out to get up to speed on everything from Kurdistan to the Kim Kardashian app.

Subscribe to our channel!
Check out our full video catalog:
Follow Vox on Twitter:
Or on Facebook:

Related Videos