A decade of progress positions California to take renewable energy to the next level

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Environment California Research & Policy Center

California produces 23.2 times as much solar power as it did in 2007, and 2.6 times as much wind power, according to a new report released today by Environment California Research & Policy Center. The report also highlights advances in the use of energy storage and electric vehicles, and California ranked 19th for improvements in electricity energy efficiency programs.

“Every day, there’s more evidence that a cleaner, healthier economy powered by renewable energy is within our reach,” said Michelle Kinman from Environment California Research & Policy Center. “The progress we’ve made in the last decade on renewable energy and technologies like battery storage and electric cars should give Californians the confidence that we can take clean energy to the next level.”

The report, Renewables on the Rise: A Decade of Progress Positions America for a 100% Renewable Future, provides a state-by-state assessment of the growth of key technologies needed to power the nation with clean, renewable energy, including wind, solar, energy efficiency, energy storage and electric vehicles. California ranked 1st for solar and 7th for wind, and 1st for both electric vehicles and energy storage.

“California has seen significant progress on clean energy and has helped lead on clean energy” said Kinman.  “But, in order to ensure a healthy future for our kids, we need to continue to lead by transitioning California as quickly to a future powered by renewable energy.”

The report describes the factors that have contributed to the rapid growth in each category since 2007, including policies, improved technologies and lower costs, all of which suggest the potential for continued rapid growth in the years to come. California stands apart in solar energy additions and overall production of solar energy. California was responsible for 43 percent of the growth in solar energy production nationwide between 2008 and 2017. California’s booming solar market has benefited from strong policy support, including the innovative “Million Solar Roofs Initiative” that accelerated state solar growth in the mid-2000s.

The report comes as a diverse group of U.S. cities, states, corporations and institutions commit to 100 percent renewable energy. In 2015, Hawaii became the first state in the country to set a 100 percent renewable energy requirement. A similar bill in California, Senate Bill 100 (De León), which would create a 100 percent clean energy future for California by 2045, needs only to receive support from the Assembly this August before it can go to Governor Brown’s desk for signing.

At the local level, 61 American cities, led by a mix of Republican and Democratic mayors, have committed to that goal, including more than 15 California cities from San Diego to San Francisco. In addition, 131 major companies, including Bank of America, Google and Anheuser-Busch have committed to power their operations with 100 percent renewable energy.

“The reality is inescapable: fossil fuels pollute our air, water and land, threatening our health and changing our climate even faster than scientists predicted,” said Kinman. “We need to seize the moment, build on recent progress and lean into a future powered by 100 percent clean, renewable energy.”

Repowering our economy with clean, renewable energy can put our nation on a healthier, more sustainable course. And with rapid improvements in technology, vast clean energy resources, and a willing public, a future powered entirely by clean, renewable energy is increasingly within our reach.