In the thick of California's race to maximize renewable energy generation, thought leaders are weighing in on the key steps leading up to becoming 100% renewable. Greentech Media and other leading renewable energy voices analyze the "connective tissue" of the large, state-wide undertaking.
“California can integrate renewable energy [today] without real challenges because the grid is overbuilt,” said Wade Schauer, research director for the Americas power and renewables market at Wood Mackenzie, referring to the natural-gas plants that are already on the grid. “To get to 100 percent, you have to replace that one for one with storage. Not just any storage, multi-day storage -- and there aren’t batteries out there doing that now. There’s going to have to be a lot of innovation, and that’s not going to be cheap.”
Anything can happen in 20 years, Schauer added -- who knows what technology will be available in 2040? However, he is certain that if California tries to achieve 100 percent renewables too quickly, “it’s going to be very painful.”
Just getting to 50 percent renewables in California is going to require some major investments. According to a Wood Mackenzie analysis, under a 50 percent RPS with solar making up the majority of incremental additions (43 gigawatts of incremental solar and 2 gigawatts of incremental wind), an additional 10 gigawatts of flexible capacity -- a combination of thermal generators, hydropower, demand response and energy storage resources -- would need to be procured by 2030 in order to meet the system’s ramping needs during the shoulder months.