Say I come home on a hot day and crank my AC full blast (colder.) The grid is powered by wind, solar, hydro, coal, and natural gas. The additional power required by my cranking up the AC cannot be offset by wind, solar, or hydro, because they are always maximized, correct?

My additional power use must be offset by an increase in natural gas, correct? Or, at a basic level, any additional increase in my power use increases the amount of fossil fuels being used, but does not affect wind, solar, or hydro generated?

If this is too small a perturbation, say 1k or 10k homes crank their AC, does this increase only fossil fuel use, or is some offset by green energy?

  • \$\begingroup\$ your first premise is incorrect ... the rest of depend on the first one being correct \$\endgroup\$
    – jsotola
    Oct 11, 2022 at 16:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ They will try to use as much wind and solar energy as possible because it's free. As much as possible might not be 100%. Hydro is free but can be stored so they might try to balance hydro now with hydro later. \$\endgroup\$
    – user253751
    Oct 11, 2022 at 17:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @jsotola, could you elaborate on why the first premise is incorrect? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ray J
    Oct 11, 2022 at 17:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ Solar can be curtailed and controlled. Newer grid-tie inverters respond to frequency changes (very small frequency changes) by scaling power. So it is not right to assume it is always maximized. BUT, if you come home from work on a hot day and crank the AC, at the same time everyone else is doing that, practically, in 2022, solar will be maximized at that time and all your assumptions are true. \$\endgroup\$
    – user57037
    Oct 11, 2022 at 17:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ enerdynamics.com/Energy-Currents_Blog/… \$\endgroup\$
    – user57037
    Oct 11, 2022 at 17:26

1 Answer 1


You could be burning more dead dinos when you crank up your AC.

Some countries have populations and hence electrical loading that has far outstripped their hydro resources. Wind and solar are helpful in the generation mix but they are not always available. Hydro has high availability. Nuclear has cost and safety concerns.

Thermal power plants in a well designed power grid are designed to be only used occasionally when demand exceeds supply from the other sources. Fossil fuels have been expensive since the 1970s and now there are carbon tax issues. So it depends on where you live.


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