CEC Update on Meeting California’s 100% Clean Energy Goals Calls for Massive Build Out of Renewables

Published On: September 9, 2020

Today, California Energy Commission staff provided an update on the joint agency report to meet the 100% clean energy goals by 2045. The staff presented that most existing generation and an additional 145 and 180 GW of new power will be needed to meet California’s future energy demands.

“SB 100 is achievable with existing technologies,” said Liz Gill of the Energy Assessments Division during her presentation to the commissioners. “However, sustained record-setting resource build rates will be required to meet SB 100.”

In today’s meeting, the energy commission staff outlined some scenarios to achieve clean energy goals depending upon future energy demands. However, every scenario relied on large build-outs of solar, wind, and battery storage. Under a high electrification demand scenario, California will need to build 2.7 GWs of solar, 0.9 GWs of wind, and 2.2 GWs of battery storage annually for 25 years. The level of energy infrastructure construction is more than double the state’s average. In fact, California’s record annual builds are 2.67 GWs of solar, 0.98 GWs of wind generation, and 0.1 GWs of battery storage.

Gill followed up by saying that if California does not start immediately on new energy construction, the amount needed to be built per year will only increase. Energy Commissioner Janea Scott asked if incentives or policies were needed to accelerate construction. The staff responded that some recommendations would be in the final report as well as subsequent updates to the report that are due every four years.

The staff estimated the cost of new facilities to be an additional $66 billion. That cost would result in an additional 16 cents per kWh.

Even at that cost, the power will not be completely green. Gill noted, “Natural gas capacity is largely retained, but fleet-wide utilization decreases by 50% compared to a 60% RPS future. Cost reductions and innovation in zero-carbon firm resources and storage resources may reduce economic gas fleet retention.”

The Energy Commission, Public Utilities Commission, and the Air Resources Board will continue to work on the report until the new year when the final report will be presented to the state legislature. The working group started the process last September with three public workshops and will continue to take comments until September 15. A draft report is expected to be completed in November.

The clean energy report is being developed to help implement Senate Bill 100 (2018), which established clean energy goals. The law calls for 60% of California’s power to come from renewable resources by 2030. The law further calls for 100% carbon-neutral energy by 2045.

About the Author: Matt Ross

Matt Ross is a Senior Consultant in the energy industry and has more than a dozen years of experience in state government. He can be reached at matt at govreport.org