California is powered by 100% renewable energy sources
The state of California came close to being powered by all renewables twice this year. However, last month it exceeded consumer demand and generated more electricity than needed for a few hours a day, using only its renewable energy capacity, Clean Technica reported.
Countries around the world have set themselves ambitious targets for reducing carbon emissions over the coming decades. However, the transition to renewable energy is not so simple and must be planned holistically.
Renewable energy sources are well known to be sporadic and affected by the time of day and the seasons of the year. Thus, a renewable energy transition plan must take into account several variables and include redundancies to ensure that there are no setbacks.
California’s leap into the future of energy
California’s transition to renewable energy has been a good mix of government policy and mainstream awareness and adoption. Not only has the state established several megawatt-scale solar farms, but it has also facilitated the installation of solar rooftops on its buildings.
The state’s push for renewable energy has yielded more than satisfactory results so far. But since the start of the year, electricity production has been aiming for 100% and has even approached it several times. On May 3, when the milestone was supposed to be reached, detailed calculations revealed that production was only 0.13% lower than total demand.
However, a few days later, the production crossed the bar by a comfortable margin as it exceeded the power called for at the time. The state has also prepared for such an eventuality by installing grid-scale batteries in its energy infrastructure. According to National Energy Commission1400 MW of battery capacity was added in 2021 alone.
Setbacks and innovations
California’s journey to renewable energy hasn’t been smooth sailing either. The state, which in the past relied on hydroelectricity, was forced to shut down its hydroelectric plant at Lake Oroville last year after water levels plummeted and were insufficient to generate electricity.
The state that went through a climate change-induced drought had to take these setbacks in its stride. However, it also paved the way for more innovative projects such as the installation of solar panels on the canals with the aim of generating electricity and saving water from evaporation.
As much as the state would love to generate most of its electricity from renewables, it is well aware that its date with fossil fuels is far from over. Gas-fired power plants continue to operate in the state, especially at night when electricity generation from solar panels is reduced to zero, NPR reported.
Even as renewable energy prices plummet, the state needs to triple wind and solar generation capacity and eight-fold increase in battery storage capacity to meet its goal of 24-hour carbon-free power by 2045, Clean Technica said in its report.
While California’s recent milestone is certainly worth celebrating, there’s still a long way to go before it becomes normal around the clock.