Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Some real progress on California renewable energy

The California Public Utilities Commission announced recently that our three major private utilities had already hit the legally-required 20% renewable power standard, 18 months before the end of 2013 deadline.  Next up is 25% by end of 2016, and 33% in 2020.

Will it happen?  The original legislation in 2001 set the 20% standard in 2010, which was then reset in 2009 to give more time and more ambitious goals.  So if history's a guide, some slippage is possible, but this is doable.

In other news, California legislators are debating Senate Bill 843, which would allow renters and homeowners with property badly situated for solar (like me) to buy solar power from facilities off of their property.  In other words, a type of carbon offset, and a good one.

UPDATE:  more on the history of the California program.  Target dates have fluctuated over time:

In 2002, California established its Renewables Portfolio Standard Program, with the goal of increasing the percentage of renewable energy in the state's electricity mix to 20 percent by 2017. The Energy Commission's 2003 Integrated Energy Policy Report recommended accelerating that goal to 2010, and the 2004 Energy Report Update urged increasing the target to 33 percent by 2020. Governor Schwarzenegger, the Energy Commission, and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) endorsed this enhanced goal for the state as a whole. Achieving these renewable energy goals became even more important with the enactment of AB 32 (Núñez, Chapter 488), the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. This legislation sets aggressive greenhouse gas reduction goals for the state and its achievements will depend in part on the success of renewable energy programs.


notjonathon said...

Brian, would that make community or even neighborhood-scale solar a possibility?

J Bowers said...

The Vast Potential for Renewable Energy in the American West

A possible half million extra jobs. The renewables energy sector also pays more than its fossil fuelled coutnerparts IIRC, which could only be a boost to the local and federal economies.

J Bowers said...

Whoops, link for above:

Brian said...

Notjon - I think so. They can buy into a solar system so it appears that they can create a system.

This is a stopgap to make up for the lack of a green energy option for most customers.

Remember though it's just legislation right now, not a law. We'll see what ultimately happens.

Adam Kidd said...

So CA has achieved a 15 year goal (2002 target of 20% renewables) in 10 years? Quite impressive!

Having picked up through various blogs the problem of renewables intermittency, does this mean the 33% by 2020 target will need some clever large-scale solutions for energy storage to be developed and deployed?

Brian said...

Adam - wind intermittency can be addressed by having wind turbines scattered over large geographic regions. Off shore winds are also much more consistent.

Regular solar requires some kind of storage. Older batteries from electric vehicles after they've passed their driving range usefulness could help a lot with this, or from existing EVs hooked up with two-way power supplies to the grid. There will be millions of these batteries available in future decades.

Concentrated solar can store energy in the form of heat, e.g. molten salt. A fried of mine is working on this stuff.

Solar MA said...

33% Isn't enough for 2020!! We need MORE!

Haha. Solar energy is limitless, if only the obstacle around saving the earth wasn't man-made currency. One can dream, right?

-Sharone Tal