California Breaks Record After Getting 81 Percent Of Energy From Renewables

Highway 1 along to Big Sur in California. Doug Meek/Shutterstock

While Trump et al. continue to do all they can to trash the environment and pretend climate change isn’t happening, certain US states continue to forge their own low-carbon path. The Golden State has always had a penchant for clean energy, and now it looks like they’ve broken another renewable record.

As reported by SF Gate, on Saturday, May 13, renewable energy sources – solar and wind – produced 67.2 percent of the electricity demand. This doesn’t take into account hydroelectric power, but when this is factored in, this figure rises to a remarkable 80.7 percent.

A combination of sunny and windy days, combined with peak operating capacities of California’s hydroelectric plants, helped set this record. Without the massive investment in clean energy, however, this laudable target would have never been met.

One caveat: these readings were based off the California Independent System Operator (CISO). This nonprofit oversees the operation of the state’s bulk electric power system, and manages about 80 percent of California’s electric flow. So there’s 20 percent of the electricity demand not accounted for here.

However, plenty of the population have stuck photovoltaic panels on their roofs, and the electricity generated in this manner was not taken into consideration here, so the final figure is lower than the actual value. In any case, this is a wonderful and substantial record to have broken, and it fits perfectly in line with the history of the state.

These certainly help. Patrick Jennings/Shutterstock

By law, California requires utilities to get a third of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020, a figure that rises to 50 percent by 2030. They’re already close to meeting their goal – in 2016, California’s key electric utilities managed to eke 32.3 percent of their energy from wind, solar, and hydro sources.

Back in the 1970s, before global warming and climate change were really in the zeitgeist, the oil crisis led to people worrying that fossil fuels wouldn’t be enough to power the state. Both federal and state tax credits allowed California to develop fledgling solar and wind industries.

Over time, renewable energy commissions were given more influence over state policy, and ever since, California has become a national leader in clean energy. Now, with climate change on everyone’s minds, reducing the carbon footprint of the state has become a top priority. A CISO spokesperson said that, in particular, solar power records are falling like dominos.

It helps that Jerry Brown, the Democratic Governor of California, is decidedly pro-clean energy and pro-science. He’s also a fierce critic of the Trump administration’s attempt to muzzle researchers and defund clean energy research.

California has a population of 39.1 million people, more than many countries. If one US state can become clean, then the rest of the world definitely can. We’re looking at you, Paris.

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