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What is a “Duck Curve”

The energy “duck curve” is a term used to describe the shape of a graph that represents the daily electricity demand and supply patterns. It typically consists of four main points:

  1. Baseload demand: This is the minimum level of electricity demand that occurs during periods of low activity, usually in the early morning or late at night. It represents the energy needed to power essential services and appliances that operate continuously.
  2. Morning ramp-up: As the day begins, electricity demand starts to rise as people wake up, businesses open, and industrial activities increase. This upward slope represents the increasing demand for electricity during the morning hours.
  3. Mid-day dip: This is a characteristic dip in the electricity demand curve that occurs during the middle of the day, typically around noon. It is caused by factors such as increased energy efficiency, the use of distributed generation (such as rooftop solar), and the reduced demand for electricity in commercial and industrial sectors during lunch breaks.
  4. Evening peak: As the day progresses, electricity demand starts to rise again, reaching its peak during the evening hours when people return home, residential activities increase, and appliances and lighting are heavily used. This is the highest point on the curve, representing the peak demand for electricity.

Regarding Ontario, it is possible to observe a variation of the duck curve pattern in the province’s electricity demand and supply. Factors such as increased adoption of renewable energy sources, particularly solar power, and energy conservation efforts can contribute to a mid-day dip in electricity demand. However, the shape and intensity of the curve would depend on various factors, including the specific energy mix, weather patterns, and consumer behavior in the region. It is important to note that while the duck curve can present challenges in managing grid stability and balancing electricity supply and demand, it also highlights opportunities for optimizing energy storage and demand response strategies to address the variations in daily energy demand patterns.

Implementing energy storage systems, such as battery energy storage or pumped hydro storage, can help in capturing excess energy generated during periods of low demand and releasing it during peak demand periods. These storage systems can provide a buffer to balance the fluctuations in energy supply and demand, reducing the reliance on traditional fossil fuel-based power plants during peak periods.

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