California Commits to 100% Renewables Goal

The U.S. State of California’s Governor Jerry Brown has signed the Senate Bill No. 100 into law, committing to achieve the 100% renewable energy target by the end of 2045.

The bill is expected to see the establishment of the state policy of having eligible renewable energy resources and zero-carbon resources supply 100% of electricity retail sales to California end-users and 100% of electricity procured to serve all state agencies by 31 December 2045.

The California Renewables Portfolio Standard Program, which now states the target of achieving 33% of electricity produced by renewables by the end of 2020, 40% by the end of 2024 and 50% by the end of 2030, will also be revised. With the signing of the bill, the amended program will include achieving a 50% renewable resources target by the end of 2026 and 60% by 31 December 2030.

Furthermore, the document will require retail sellers and local publicly owned electric utilities to procure a minimum quantity of electricity from eligible renewable resources so that the total kilowatt-hours sold to the end-users achieve 44% of retail sales by the end of 2024, as well as 52% by 31 December 2027.

The PUC and the Energy Commission, in consultation with the state board, are responsible to ensure that a transition to a zero-carbon electric system does not cause or contribute to greenhouse gas emissions increases elsewhere in the western grid. The parties are also in charge of using programs authorized under existing statutes to achieve the policy and issue a joint report to the Legislature by the beginning of 2021 and every four years thereafter.

According to the Business Network for Offshore Wind, the Senate Bill No. 100 positions California to reap the benefits of the offshore wind industry by including it as a key resource to meet the new goal.

In a 2016 report, the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) stated that by 2050 16GW of offshore wind projects could support nearly 6,000 long-term California operations-phase jobs or nearly 3,000 jobs in case 10GW is developed. Cumulative GDP impacts are estimated to be USD 39.7 billion or USD 16.2 billion for the construction phases and USD 7.9 billion or USD 3.5 billion in the operations phases for the 16GW and the 10GW scenario, respectively.

In May this year, the California Energy Commission and the country of Denmark signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on offshore wind, which is expected to help the U.S. state get data and information from the EU country with long experience within the industry. Shortly after, German EnBW and Seattle-based Trident Winds formed a joint venture to develop a 100-turbine floating wind project, named Morro Bay, off the coast of Central California.

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