California ISO generated 8 GW of solar, topping last year's record by 2 GW

Dive Brief:

  • Solar production in California notched a new record last week, generating 8,030 MW of energy in the early afternoon of July 12. Officials at the ISO said that is almost twice the energy produced in mid-2014 and 2,000 MW more than a record set last year.
  • The state is working to reach 33% renewables by 2020, and at peak production times California renewables have already exceeded that amount, albeit briefly.
  • California has the most interconnected renewable resources of any state, with a total capacity of almost 19,000 MW including 8,600 MW of solar and 6,000 MW of wind.

Dive Insight:

California's new solar production record is an impressive leap over last year's figures, showing just how quickly the state is moving to bring clean energy resources online. Solar generation in California on May 31 last year set a record of 6,078 MW. A little more than a year later, and the new record production was almost 2,000 MW more. 

"This solar production record demonstrates that California is making significant strides forward in connecting low carbon resources to the grid,” ISO President and CEO Steve Berberich said in a statement. “California continues to lead the nation in adding clean resources to the system and writing a playbook for operating a low carbon grid.”

The growth comes as the state pushes towards its 50% renewables mandate enacted last year, and a goal to expand renewables on the grid beyond the mandate.

Steve Berberich, Chief Executive Officer of CAISO, told Utility Dive earlier this year that “we are already showing it is possible to decarbonize an economy that large...the key is that you can’t keep doing things the way you have always done them.”

On the day of the new record, solar, wind and other resources in the state's Renewables Portfolio Standard provided 29% of the day's system peak at about 6 p.m. And twice in May, for brief periods, renewables' contribution topped 50%. On May 14 and 15, renewables were serving 54% and 56% of demand, respectively.

In addition to solar and wind power, geothermal, biofuels, small hydro-electricity and energy storage all qualify as renewable resources in the state's portfolio.

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Filed Under: Solar & Renewables
Top image credit: Depositphotos