Resources for 100%
Explore resources below on 100% clean energy and Senate Bill 100, the California Clean Energy Act, which set a goal for California to achieve 100% clean electricity by 2045.
Are you ready to take action for 100%? Tell your Assemblymember to pass SB 100 now and accelerate the transition to the use of clean energy in California.
California—the world’s sixth largest economy—has firmly established itself as a global clean energy leader by setting, achieving, and surpassing clean energy goals that at first seemed unattainable. As a next step to maintaining our state’s clean energy momentum and showing the world a pathway to a healthy and sustainable future, California has committed to a future powered by 100 percent zero-carbon electricity. Senate Bill 100, the California Clean Energy Act, sets a goal of 100% zero-carbon, clean electricity by 2045. Learn more about SB 100.
Is 100 percent clean electricity by 2045 feasible?
Powering the most populous and prosperous state in the country on 100% carbon-free electricity is both bold and achievable. California is on track to exceed its current 50 percent Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) requirement ahead of the 2030 deadline, technology is already available to help the grid run on very large quantities of renewables, and the cost of renewables, storage, and other clean energy investments continue to decline.
Clean, carbon-free electricity sources can include renewable energy resources eligible under the RPS, including solar, wind, and other zero carbon resources. They could also include resources that are not RPS-eligible, but carbon-free like existing large hydropower and nuclear. Energy storage, including batteries, are being deployed more widely across the electricity system and costs are falling. Advances in the ways we manage the use of energy – through smart appliances, the so-called “internet of things,” and demand response – are helping conserve energy and shift energy use to times of day when renewable sources like solar are plentiful.
A bill currently under consideration in the California legislature is the California 100 Percent Clean Energy Act, or SB 100, which would accelerate the state’s current RPS program to 50% by 2025 and 60% by 2030. These interim renewable energy goals on the way to 100% clean electricity are important benchmarks in the road ahead that will stimulate further innovation in California’s electric system.
Given that 2045 is more than 25 years in the future, there will very likely be new technologies we don’t know about today that could help California transition to a 100% carbon-free electricity sector in an even faster and cheaper way than what’s envisioned today. Now is the time to keep California’s clean energy momentum going and catalyze the discussions around technologies and policies needed to reach the goal of 100 percent!
What are some of the technical advances that will make 100 percent clean electricity possible by 2045?
- Better weather forecasting technology is making it much easier for grid operators to precisely predict how much wind or solar generation we can depend on at any given time.
- The cost of zero-carbon generation sources like wind and solar have dramatically decreased in the past decade and continue to decline. (see FAQ 1 for more info).
- The cost of energy storage technologies, which will help us be able to use renewables when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining, also continues to decline.
- New advancements in the ability of large and small electricity users to shift usage towards times when electricity is cheaper and when the supply of renewables is most abundant are helping to make the grid more flexible and able to accommodate very high levels of renewable energy.
- Grid operators around the western United States are coordinating to gain access to larger markets for renewables and other carbon-free flexible grid resources.
- Targeting energy efficiency during times of the day when renewables are less abundant (like after the sun sets) will also help the grid operate more efficiently.
What are the benefits of 100 percent clean electricity for California?
- The electricity sector is still a large emitter of greenhouse gases, accounting for nearly 20 percent of California’s emissions in 2015. Moving to 100 percent clean electricity will help us reduce our global warming pollution and meet our climate goals.
- Clean electricity is critical to reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector, which is the biggest source of global warming pollution in California, as we move towards electrifying cars and heavy-duty vehicles.
- Clean electricity will help reduce the reliance of California’s built environment – homes, and commercial buildings – on fossil natural gas for heating, cooling, cooking, and other uses.
- California has 500,000 clean energy jobs, and the most solar jobs in the US. A goal of 100 percent clean energy will keep the momentum for clean energy jobs, investments and economic growth going throughout California. Nearly every county in the state hosts renewable energy projects, with new projects concentrated in counties most in need of economic stimulation. The majority of projects built in the last decade—almost three-quarters of the state total—are located in counties with unemployment levels of 6 percent or higher. These new projects have supported jobs for local residents and helped jump-start the revitalization of local economies. Learn more in this fact sheet on California’s Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) Program.
- Reduced local pollution from reduced fossil fuel use
- Cleaner, healthier air and less pollution in vulnerable communities where power plants are often located
- Reducing California’s vulnerability to decreasing water supplies by reducing water consumption in the power sector.
How will a goal of 100 percent clean energy affect Californians’ utility bills?
Due to California’s low electricity consumption per capita (because of strong energy efficiency policies), residents’ monthly electric bills are among the lowest in the nation.
- In 2015, California ranked #39 out of 50 states for average monthly electricity bills.
- The average monthly residential electricity bill in California in 2015 was $95, compared to the national average, $114.
California is also leading the way in making the grid operate in a more efficient manner with fewer power plants waiting to be switched on for just a few hours each year.
Solar and wind are already the lowest cost new sources of electricity. Relying on larger amounts of longer-term renewable energy contracts that provide a known price for electricity will reduce California customers’ exposure to the volatility of natural gas prices.
There are many other factors that affect utility bills beyond the cost of electricity generation, including transmission, distribution, conservation, research and development, maintenance, and others. Transitioning to 100 percent clean energy will require an orderly and sustainable clean generation investment approach , while simultaneously phasing out aging, more polluting, and less efficient natural gas power plants. This transition will be monitored and managed by the California Energy Commission, the California Public Utilities Commission, and local governing boards of publicly-owned utilities, which all take ratepayer impacts into account when considering investments in new energy infrastructure. California will continue to be a place where people, businesses, and industry can grow and thrive.
What is the role of large hydropower in achieving 100 percent clean energy in California?
California has a robust system of existing large hydroelectric power plants, which provide about 10 percent of our current electricity supply, depending on the year. Some are owned and operated by the federal government and others are owned by private entities under licenses from the federal government. This generation is relatively flexible and can be used to help integrate large quantities of renewable energy onto the grid. Existing large hydropower could be counted towards reaching the 100 percent clean electricity goal.
Will major changes be required to the electrical grid to achieve 100 percent clean electricity?
The electricity grid is old and and in need of modernization.. There are numerous changes underway to transition from reliance on older fossil-based power plants tonewer technologies, whether smaller-scale rooftop solar, large utility-scale renewables, storage, and devices that help reduce and shift demand. There are important ways that the operation of the existing electric system can be improved. The western grid is a single interconnected system that crosses over 14 states, two Canadian provinces and a part of Northern Mexico. Power flows over this system in accordance with the laws of physics. However, the operation of the western grid is balkanized with more than 40 different organizations making decisions about which power plants to turn on and off. This approach results in higher costs for consumers and more pollution. A goal of 100 percent clean electricity does not directly affect the way that the western grid is managed; however, there are other efforts underway to better coordinate and improve efficiencies in how the grid is managed. If done effectively, it could lower the cost of meeting the 100 percent clean energy goal.
Is the goal for 100% renewable energy or 100% zero-carbon the same? What is the difference?
The bill currently under consideration, SB 100, sets a goal of meeting California’s electricity needs with 100 percent zero-carbon sources by 2045, and would require that at least 60 percent of electricity be generated by 2030 from “eligible renewable energy resources” such as solar, wind, and geothermal power.
The remaining 40 percent can come from any of those eligible renewable resources, plus existing large hydropower and any other zero-carbon polluting resources. This latter provision leaves the door open to new technologies we may not know about today that could meet future state needs while protecting the environment.
What is the Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS)?
The Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) is a law (Public Utilities Code Article 15 (commencing with Section 399.11 et seq)) that requires retail sellers of electricity (investor–owned utilities or IOUs, publicly owned utilities or POUs, community choice Aggregators or CCAs, and electric service providers or ESPs) to procure increasing amounts of renewable energy over time in order to displace fossil fuels or other generation, and to increase jobs, investment, and clean energy used by California customers. RPS-eligible resources are: solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, biogas, small hydropower, ocean wave or tidal, or fuel cells using renewable fuels.
The current RPS requirement is 50 percent by 2030 and we are well on our way to achieving that ahead of schedule.
SB 100 would accelerate the RPS to ensure that by 2030, at least 60 percent of purchased electricity in California come from renewable sources. Between 2030 and 2045, at least 60 percent must be from renewable sources, but other carbon-free sources, such as large hydroelectric dams (power considered clean but not “renewable” under current law) may also count toward achieving 100 percent clean electricity.