A new peak generation record for the California grid was set on August 15 at 12:03 PM. It was 4.813 GW for utility-scale solar PV and concentrating solar power. The California Independent Operator released data showing the record had been achieved. The 4.8 GW of solar power was about 14% of demand. This percentage would be greater if distributed solar resources in California had been factored in.
So what does this record mean for Californians? It means that California utilities are investing in solar power and seeing an expansion of their capacity to generate electricity from a clean energy source. California has always leaned toward renewables utilizing hydropower, wind, geothermal and some solar.
The Golden State has one of the highest solar potentials of the American states. Given that political leaders and policy makers have been receptive to renewables there, it does appear that solar technology will continue to grow. The goal of reaching 33% of renewables was signed into law by Governor Brown, but it was initiated by an executive order issued by Governor Schwarzenegger in 2008. It appears that on the way to 33% renewables, more such records will be broken.
This kind of news story doesn’t stand out much when there has been a preponderance of reporting about scorched birds in Southern California. Yes, that’s regrettable, but progress is not always completely smooth.
Fossil fuels are used in California too, but there may come a time when they are not emphasized. There aren’t many coal power plants in California, but the state does get some of its electricity from out-of-state power plants. The number of in-state coal plants in operation may be less than five. A state of CA webpage explains, “Of the 16 in-state coal and pet coke plants that once operated in California, only two coal plants and one pet coke plant continued to operate in 2013, and the capacity of in-state coal-fired generation dropped almost 200 megawatts from 2012 to 2013. However, two in-state coal plants that have not been operating since 2012, each with a capacity of 38 MW, announced that operations would resume in June 2014.”