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RENEWABLE ENERGY | California

California aims for 100 percent clean energy by 2045


Dr. Mario Picazo
Meteorologist, PhD

Tuesday, September 4, 2018, 6:59 - California is closer than ever towards setting a statewide goal of moving to 100 percent clean renewable energy. Recently, the California Assembly Utilities and Energy Committee approved Senate Bill 100, which establishes a new target for California's energy future. It ensures that 60 percent of California's electricity will come from clean sources by 2030 and 100 percent by 2045.

(SEE ALSO: California lawmakers pass bill on PG&E wildfire liability)

The ambitious plan pushed forward by Democratic Senate President Kevin de León, would contemplate setting limits on California's electrical grid hydrocarbon consumption and aim to gradually increase renewable energy consumption in the coming decades. Reduce pollution and carbon emissions while creating thousands of jobs in the renewable energy sector is currently one of the nation´s most ambitious clean-energy goals.

Image courtesy: Wikipedia

The most populated state in the U.S. with close to 40 million is also the fifth largest economy in the world. Within the country, it is also the second total greatest emitter of carbon dioxide, but the 49th by energy consumed per person. If signed by Governor Jerry Brown, the bill will require California utilities to get half of their energy from wind, solar and other specific renewable sources as early as 2026, that is, four years earlier than current law requires.

The 2045 deadline would phase out fossil fuels completely, but the goal would not include mandates or penalties. The only other state that has set similar goals for the future is Hawaii, although with a population close to 1 million. Massachusetts is another state that is considering a bill requiring 100 percent renewable energy use by 2050.

The measure has been endorsed by former Vice President Al Gore and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Actors Leonardo DiCaprio, Chris Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo have also shown support via social media.

Overall, most Democrats are in favor of the proposed renewable energy bill. California is leading the way to show global leadership in addressing climate change by charting a path for other large economies to follow. If California can do it, others will follow and at least try to achieve similar goals if not the same.

For some, the new goal is way out of the ball park of the most recent goal set to reach a 50 percent use of renewable energy in 8 years. Some experts, like Lucas Davis, and energy economist from UC Berkeley, say phasing out fossil fuels completely would be a massive change in the energy grid. Utilities rely on natural gas plants to meet demand when renewables fall short, especially in the evening hours when people get home from work and turn on their AC, heaters or other devices. For other energy experts, there are potential solutions on the way, like development of batteries that can store solar energy generated in the afternoon.

Image courtesy: Wikipedia

Whatever the future technology might be, California is aiming very high and the proposed goal will take quiet and effort by the state in many aspects. California is currently a large oil, gas and renewable energy producer. It relies heavily on the energy industry for its economy, but the mentality of the state is different in terms of a cleaner form of energy use compared to other states in a similar situation like for example Texas.

While California moves forward with this project mostly motivated by the need to have a cleaner environment while reducing the impact of climate change, Texas, has a greater capitalistic goal and sees renewable energy mainly as an economic opportunity.

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