‘Unprecedented’ energy record shows future of clean power, expert says

‘Unprecedented’ energy record shows future of clean power, expert says

California has hit a new renewables record after exceeding 100 per cent of grid demand with clean energy sources for 30 of the past 38 days.

New data from California Independent System Operator (CAISO) shows that supply from geothermal, hydro, solar and wind exceeded demand for between 0.25-6 hours per day for more than three quarters of days since the start of March.

It is the first time that the US state has succeeded in drawing all of its electricity needs from wind-water-solar (WWS) sources for such a sustained period of time.

“This is unprecedented in California’s history,” Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University who first shared the figures, told The Independent.

“In previous years, WWS supply exceeded demand occasionally on one weekend day, but never two days in a row and never during the week, and never to the magnitude that is now, up to 122 per cent of demand.”

Electricity production from renewables was so strong that not even a partial solar eclipse interrupted the run earlier this month.

As the fifth largest economy in the world, California is the largest state to see such success, though it only ranked 12th in the US last year for producing WWS electricity relative to consumption.

Professor Jacobson noted that the trend is not unique to California, with South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, Mained, Montana, New Mexico, Okleahona, Oregon, Washington State and Wyoming all producing over 56 per cent of their electricity from renewable sources in 2023.

“This is getting so easy, it’s almost boring,” Professor Jacobson said. “Just need offshore wind and more solar and batteries to get to 100 per cent 24/7.”

California plans to add 60 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2035 in order to transition away from polluting energy sources over the next decade.

The plan was approved by state energy regulators in February, who claimed it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 25 million metric tons.

“This is a critical component of California’s climate change strategy,” said Alice Reynolds, president of California Public Utilities Commission.

Recently published research from Professor Jacobson shows that five countries are already meeting all of their energy needs from renewable sources – Albania, Bhutan, Nepal and Paraguay – while a further nine produce more than 90 per cent of their energy from renewables.

In the UK, it was reported in March that renewable energy overtook gas for the first time this winter, while a January report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) revealed that the world added 50 per cent more renewable energy in 2023 than 2022.