California Commits to 100% Carbon-Free Energy by 2045

On September 10, 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown, signed Senate Bill 100 (SB 100) into law. SB 100 commits California to 100% carbon-free electricity by 2045. With SB 100, California joins Hawaii and New Jersey as the first states committing to 100% carbon-free energy.

Key Details

  • SB 100 effectively moves up California’s target of 50% renewables by four years from 2030 to 2026 and adds a new target of 60% renewables by 2030—10% higher than originally planned.
  • The bill also establishes a final target of 100% carbon-free energy by 2045.
  • Prior to SB 100, California’s clean energy targets were based on renewable energy from solar, wind, geothermal, and hydroelectric.
  • SB 100 expands the scope of what qualifies as carbon-free by providing flexibility for nuclear and hydropower resources to be included in the 100% target.
  • Although Diablo Canyon, California’s only remaining nuclear plant, is set to close in 2025, the bill provides flexibility to achieve 100% carbon-free energy by supplementing renewables with other carbon-free resources, like nuclear or carbon-captured natural gas.
    • California currently gets 9% of its energy from nuclear generators.
  • California is not the first state to set such ambitious clean energy targets.
    • In May, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order directing the development of a plan to achieve 100% clean energy by 2050.
    • In June, Hawaii Governor David Ige signed a bill committing Hawaii to obtain 100% of its electricity from renewables by 2045.

Implications

This bill sets the high-water mark for both the timeline and scale of a state’s commitment to clean energy to date, and it is another demonstration by California of its pledge to clean energy. As with the other states pursuing these clean energy goals, greater grid flexibility will be needed to manage the fluctuations associated with greater reliance on intermittent resources. For California, this may involve relying on the Energy Imbalance Market to a greater degree or increasing its energy storage goals. Finally, though the bill recognizes the carbon-free energy from nuclear and other sources in achieving its goals, thus far there has been no activity to forestall the scheduled closure of Diablo Canyon.

Additional Resources

This report is part of ScottMadden’s Grid Minute series. To view all featured Minutes, please click here.

Additional Contributing Author: Luke Williams

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Contributing Authors

Chris Sturgill Manager

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