California—which, if it were an independent country, would have the world's fifth largest economy—is joining Hawaii in going carbon-free by 2045 thanks to a landmark bill to ditch electricity from fossil fuels for renewable energy.
On Monday, Governor Jerry Brown made this quest an official mandate by signing SB 100 into law.
“California is committed to doing whatever is necessary to meet the existential threat of climate change,” Brown said.
The push to fast-track the state's clean energy trajectory coincides with real-world climate change concerns. California is experiencing longer and deadlier wildfire seasons exacerbated by climate change even as the Trump administration rolls back federal programs for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants, cars, and trucks that contribute to global warming.
As groundbreaking as SB 100 would be, the shift to green energy wouldn't be a big lift for California for several reasons, says Laura Wisland, senior energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
The state is already close to meeting its first benchmark to increase its renewable energy portfolio to 33 percent by 2020, in line with state law SB 350, Wisland says. Another climate law, SB 32, requires California to limit statewide greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.
SB 100 further advances the state's goal to reduce carbon emissions: 50 percent of the state's energy must come from eligible renewable sources by 2026, 60 percent by 2030. Eligible renewables specified in the state's Renewables Portfolio Standard include solar, wind, geothermal, and small-scale hydroelectric generation. To reach 100 percent clean energy by 2045, California can also draw upon energy sources that aren't strictly renewable, but don’t emit carbon dioxide—such as nuclear, large hydroelectric, and natural gas plants with carbon capture and storage—to count toward the remaining 40 percent.
Some of this shift will happen naturally as older power plants retire, Wisland says.
In 2017, about 29 percent of California's electricity came from renewable energy sources, almost triple the amount from 2007. Meanwhile, natural gas and coal made up 34 and 4 percent of California's electric generation in 2017, down from about 46 and 17 percent in 2007.
Read Full Article at Popular Sciences