According to California Independent System Operator (CAISO), a non-profit organization that tracks the state’s bulk electric power system and electricity generated and transmitted by its utilities, the state of California achieved 99.87% of its electric power from renewables on Saturday, April 30th at 2:45pm PST.
12,391 MW of the 18,648 MW came from the solar panels connected to the state’s electrical grid while the rest came from wind, geothermal, and other renewable sources. Although this only lasted for a period of 15 minutes the renewable contribution to the grid was significant and continued through the afternoon at a gradual reduction to about 50% until dusk.
As this is quite an achievement, note it was achieved during the daytime and on a weekend day, not during the week when load demand is typically higher.
California is still far away from being entirely independent of nuclear and natural gas but Saturday’s brief moment in the sun is a shot in the arm for the government and the environmentalists who want the state to be powered by 100% clean energy, 100% of the time, by 2045.
How they will achieve this without Diablo Canyon (scheduled for closure in 2025), is going to be tough. The loss of Diablo Canyon is more than the 2,200 MW they provide to the grid 95% of the time. Based on average capacity factor for renewables, it will take ~7,000 MW of renewables to offset the loss of Diablo Canyon. And if the 2045 goal is to be achieved, it will require much more renewables and a massive amount of energy storage. So, the question still remains – do they have enough space, time, and money? It seems most doubtful.