California Renewable Energy Forecast

America’s strongest solar market Posted by Richard Thomason on September 30, 2017

The recent forecast for renewable solar and wind energy in California, the nation’s leading solar market, just keeps getting brighter.

The percentage of renewable energy now reaches 20.6 percent at the end of 2017, up 17 percent from where it was in 2010. Although that is still off the goal for renewable energy set in 2002, this upward move suggests California may reach its renewable portfolio standard of 33 percent by 2020.

A more in-depth look at the state shows it’s not just the state’s big three utility companies that are increasing renewables. The latest report from the Union of Concerned Scientists pointed out that the thirteen largest utilities in California, representing over 87 percent of electricity sold to consumers last year, generated 30 percent of their electricity from renewables in 2017.

While renewables are growing fast across California, solar power is set to grow exponentially in the Golden State. PG&E, the state’s largest utility expects solar to jump from one percent of its total renewable portfolio to a staggering 40 percent by 2020.

These individual marks are impressive, for sure, but California’s ultimate solar potential could be much, much brighter. 12 utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) plants with a 2,200MW capacity are currently under construction in the state, and a staggering 62 PV plants with 11,600 MW of capacity are under development.

But even as more and more solar comes online, the state’s grid operator is proving it can handle the intermittent electricity supply. CalISO set a new solar generation peak of 978 megawatts (MW) earlier this week, a significant mark considering daily peak demand during the summer season is around 33,000 MW.

With so many renewable energy projects in flux due to inconsistent and uncertain incentive policies, California stands as a model for states and the federal government to demonstrate the massive impact an ambitious and steady set of renewable energy policies can have on the economy and environment.