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Getting to 100% Carbon-free electricity by 2045

California Senate Bill 100 requires that 100 percent of electricity on the grid be from carbon-free sources by 2045.  The bill requires regular reporting to ensure we are making progress and track results.

The initial SB100 Joint Agencies Report has just been released. The report and has some interesting findings regarding our current status. The good news, it is possible to achieve carbon-free electricity by 2045. The challenge is the state must go all-in to get there, and it won’t be easy.

Many have naysayers have predicted we will never be able to meet the goals of SB 100. The argument is it will be too costly, or the technology does not exist yet to support the transition.

The report has determined that it is possible to get to 100 percent clean energy by 2045, and we can do it using existing technology. It also concluded that the cost to make the transition is less than many have expected. And as always, energy efficiency will play a significant role in meeting these goals.

There are three main findings at this time:

  1. The report indicates that the cost of obtaining 100 percent carbon-free electricity will cost more. It estimates that it will add roughly 6 percent to the cost of electricity. Overall, this is very encouraging news as many predicted the costs would be double or more.
  • Getting there will take massive investment by the utilities. Providing carbon-free electricity will require significant investments in utility-scale renewable projects.  Utility-scale is massive, a much greater effort than a few solar panels on rooftops. Utility-scale is more akin to 100s of acres of land covered in solar panels. Getting to 100 percent carbon-free electricity will require investment and the construction of multiple large-scale projects simultaneously. We need to build solar farms, wind generations facilities, and energy storage facilities using batteries and other technologies. To meet the 2045 goal, we need to start building this infrastructure now. In fact, we should have started last week. Time is not on our side.
  • Grid modernization will be a critical part of the plan. The electric distribution grid needs modernization to accept and manage generation from multiple renewable sources. Dealing with loads will be vital too. We will need to adopt a new way to use electricity, including demand response and other load reduction solutions.

Overall, this first report on SB 100 is encouraging and is worth a look if you are interested. The transition to carbon-free energy is possible.  It won’t break the bank, and it will create thousands of new jobs. There will be workshops and other follow-up reports to track progress on SB 100s goals. We will keep you posted.

Charley Cormany

Executive Director

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