Nearly 60% of California power grid is clean energy, data shows

Source: By Natalia Gurevich, San Francisco, Examiner • Posted: Tuesday, May 30, 2023

California is on its way to achieving its goal of having 100% of the state’s electricity generated by clean energy by 2045.

In 2021, 59% of the state’s electricity was generated by renewable energy and zero-carbon resources, according to figures the state released this week. That’s up from 41% in 2013, but down from 64% in 2019.

Around 37% of that came from renewable energy, while 10.7% came from large hydroelectric facilities. About 10.8% came from nuclear energy.

These numbers are a part of a broader report Gov. Gavin Newsom released on Thursday outlining the state’s plan to transition to 100% clean energy. The report coincided with his visit to Moxion Power, a mobile energy storage manufacturer in Richmond.

As of the report’s publication, the state said it uses 35,000 megawatts (MW), or the average usage of 35 million homes, of renewable resources for the grid.

For 100% clean energy to power the grid, the state will need to create an additional 148,000 MW in the next two decades.

At its current level, the clean energy capacity for the power grid will need to increase by 400% by 2045 in order to reach this goal.

“California has shown we have a vision, and that vision is achievable. This update highlights how we have hit our early targets, some even ahead of schedule, but we are in a race against climate change,” Newsom said in a statement on Thursday. “We must build more, faster, to ensure California has the clean, reliable and affordable electricity it needs to power our future.”

In order to reach its goals, officials said the state must but invest in other alternatives to solar and wind power, such as batteries, clean hydrogen and long-duration storage.

Other technologies and innovations will also be needed to meet the massive demand for energy from state residents, according to the report.

While the state has passed new regulations to streamline the process to create new clean energy sources and projects, the state said public and private investment is needed to continue building on that growth.

One such possible innovation is the ability that people will have to use technology to supply power to the grid from storage, like zero-emission car batteries. This would help protect residents from potential harm during times when the grid might be overloaded, according to officials.

In the meantime, California is hitting its zero-emission vehicle goals. More than half of the state’s climate emissions are due to transportation, according to the report. But zero-emission vehicles have made up about 21% of all new car sales this year, putting the state on pace to meet its requirement of 100% of sales by 2035.

Even after this winter’s record rainfall, state officials said climate change will continue to threaten its power supply, forcing California’s clean grid to also be able to withstand hotter temperatures and drier conditions.

The goal is for the power grid to draw on multiple power resources to keep running, namely biomass, battery storage, geothermal, offshore wind, long-duration energy storage, utility-scale solar and wind.

And while the state is on track to achieving its goals, there is still a long way to go, and that will only be successful if the state continues on track.

“Harnessing the innovation, drive, and tenacity our state is known for, California is well-positioned to build on our early successes and deliver clean, reliable, affordable energy for all Californians for generations to come,” Newsom’s report concluded.