WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
Renewable energy still has a long way to go before it beats out fossil fuels completely but the momentum is gathering.
Earlier this week the US state of California announced that on May 13th they smashed through a renewable energy milestone as its largest grid, controlled by the California Independent System Operator (CISO), got an amazing 67.2 percent of its energy from renewables, and that doesn’t include hydropower or rooftop solar arrays.
Adding hydropower facilities into the mix, the total was 80.7 percent. Sunny days with plenty of wind along with full reservoirs and growing numbers of solar facilities were the principal factors in breaking the record. The CISO controls 80 percent of the state’s power grid.
These are also the reasons why experts believe 2017 will continue to be a record-breaking year for renewables in California. The state also set a new wind power generation record on May 16, 2017, producing 4,985 megawatts.
“It’s going to be a dynamic year for records,” said CISO spokesperson Steven Greenlee, “the solar records in particular are falling like dominoes.”
“The fact that the grid can handle 67 percent renewable power from multiple sources — it’s a great moment, and it shows the potential we have,” said Sachu Constantine, the Director of Policy for the Center for Sustainable Energy.
As humans we’re involved in many races but today it’s increasingly clear that the renewable energy race is one that is producing nothing but winners across the board, and this isn’t CISO’s first win — it broke its previous record in March 2017 when it hit 56.7 percent of the day’s demands with renewables. Then, last September, a California power company entered into a contract with Tesla to ensure the company’s Powerpacks would keep the state humming during outages and meanwhile, down the road BART, the public transit system in San Francisco, is now on track to be running on clean energy by 2045.
While California is certainly leading the nation, other US states and cities are doing their bit too and following suit. In May Atlanta announced it would join 26 other US cities to run entirely on renewables by 2035, and Chicago has also stated that it will power all its city buildings with renewables by 2025 – but the Las Vegas government has them both beaten, as it’s already 100 percent powered by renewables, and Nevada itself has a goal of reaching 80 percent by 2040. Massachusetts will be 100 percent renewables powered by 2035, followed by Hawaii in 2045, and the news doesn’t stop there – New York, for example, is building out America’s largest off shore wind farm.
In fact, the amount of renewables activity is starting to reach a point now where experts say that the eastern US could get 13 percent of its energy from renewables by 2025, and looking at the milestones that are being smashed, almost on a daily basis, some might say they’re being overly pessimistic…