In numbers: California’s remarkable renewables streak

A sunset scene on a beach in California, with solar panels atop the lifeguard hut.
Graphic: Sean Creighton/The Progress Playbook

California, the world’s fifth-largest economy, now regularly generates more renewable energy than it needs, data from the system operator shows.

On 62 of the 70 days to May 16, the US state saw periods where wind, solar and hydro output exceeded total electricity demand, according to Stanford University Professor Mark Z. Jacobson, who has been tracking California’s hot streak.

Standout stats: On April 27, renewable energy generation — mainly from solar panels — eclipsed electricity demand for 10 straight hours and exceeded consumption by 48.3% at one point. Surplus generation is exported to other states, stored in big batteries for use during peak periods, or curtailed (wasted).

And during the peak demand period on May 17, another milestone was hit when big batteries discharged 7.5GW of instantaneous power into the grid, covering 28% of the state’s electricity supply.

Graphic: California’s independent system operator

Over the full 70-day period, renewables met close to two-thirds of the state’s demand, on average.

California is a world leader in the adoption of solar technologies, sourcing close to 30% of its annual electricity needs directly from the sun. It’s also in the midst of a big battery boom, with another 5.2GW of storage expected to come online this year.

Here’s how it go to this point.


Most Read

Related Articles

The share of fossil fuels in the nation's electricity mix has rapidly shrunk.
A pioneer of big batteries and other decarbonisation tech, the state aims to get to 100% net renewables within seven years.
The number of daily cycling journeys reached 1.26 million in 2023, up 20% from 2019, pre-Covid levels.
Hear from the policymakers behind Uruguay, Chile and South Australia’s rapid energy transitions, among others.
China, Brazil, and the Netherlands are achieving rapid power sector transformations thanks to these three traits.
The vouchers are saving 170,000 miles in car trips a week and 3,300 tonnes of emissions annually.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *