New report: California and the nation are on the verge of a renewable future

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Analysis identifies four key strategies for transitioning to clean and renewable resources in California

Environment California Research and Policy Center

Los Angeles — Both California and the nation have more than enough capacity to build an energy system around clean, renewable resources, according to a new report released on Thursday by Environment California Research & Policy Center. The study, We Have the Power: Reaching America’s potential for clean, renewable energy, comes as California energy regulators work to prevent more energy outages this summer and prepare for the retirement of Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, while working to meet California’s 100% clean energy goals. 

The report found that all 50 states, including California, have sufficient solar or wind potential to meet current electricity needs, and that California has sufficient wind and solar potential to meet its 2020 electricity needs 40 times over. California is also among the 49 that have enough to do so under a 2050 scenario in which such energy uses as transportation and buildings run on electricity.

“A California with clean air, bright skies and a sustainable future isn’t some pie-in-the-sky idea,” said Laura Deehan, state director at Environment California Research and Policy Center. “This report offers a reminder that we actually have everything we need — an abundance of wind and solar energy and all the tools we need to harness those renewable resources.”

The authors highlight the broad agreement among researchers that an energy system powered by renewable sources is within reach. This analysis adds to that body of research by identifying four key strategies to build an energy system powered by renewable energy: building out renewable energy; modernizing the grid; reducing and managing energy use; and replacing direct uses of fossil fuels with electricity to take advantage of clean technologies. The paper points to encouraging trends in technology, prices and adoption that suggest progress in each of the four areas can be further accelerated in the years to come.

“How quickly California can make the shift to renewable energy will be decided by how and when we lean into these key action areas,” said Deehan. “The good news is that we already have seen renewable technologies improve and expand rapidly, so we should feel confident in our ability to build on that progress and scale up California’s efforts in each area — from rapidly deploying more clean energy and a modern grid to support it, to cutting energy use and converting direct fossil fuel uses to electric alternatives.”

Recommendations for policymakers at the local, state and federal levels include setting and accelerating the timeline on ambitious goals for the transition to clean renewable energy, as well as providing the support needed to ensure clean energy can actually deliver on those goals.

“We know what we need to do to ensure a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable future,” said Deehan. “But it won’t happen by itself — our leaders need to do everything in their power to get us there, starting with accelerating our timeline to get to 100% clean electricity”. 




Environment California Research & Policy Center works for clean air, clean water, clean energy, wildlife and open spaces, and a livable climate. Our members across the state put grassroots support behind our research and advocacy. Environment California Research and Policy Center is part of Environment America, a national network of 29 state environmental groups.