California sets clean energy targets

13 September 2018

California's governor Edmund Brown on 10 September signed Senate Bill 100, which sets a 100% clean energy goal for the state by 2045 and issued an executive order setting a target to achieve carbon neutrality by that date and net negative greenhouse gas emissions subsequently.

The bill increases the amount of electricity to be supplied by renewables to 60% by 2030 from the current target of 50%, with all of its retail electricity supply to come from renewable energy and zero-carbon resources by 2045. It requires the state's Public Utilities Commission and its Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission to take steps to ensure that transition to a zero-carbon electric system for California "does not cause or contribute to greenhouse gas emission increases elsewhere in the western grid."

Brown said these targets would require extensive investments across all sectors, including energy, transportation, industrial, commercial and residential buildings and agriculture. "This bill and the executive order put California on a path to meet the goals of Paris and beyond. It will not be easy. It will not be immediate. But it must be done," Brown added.

Some 26.9% of California’s generation currently comes from hydropower, with 26.9% from renewables and 43.3% from natural gas. Two nuclear reactors at Pacific Gas & Electric's Diablo Canyon plant currently generate 8.7% of California's electricity and account for 16% of the state's emission-free electricity. However, PG&E announced in June 2016 that the units would close in 2024 and 2025.

In 2013, California's San Onofe Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) was permanently retired after experiencing issues with the steam generators (see A eulogy for San Onofre from 2014, for more details on the impact).

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