New report: California among national leaders in solar power, electric vehicle adoption, and battery storage growth

Media Contacts

Elizabeth Nickerson

Decade-long analysis details dramatic clean energy growth in California and nation

Environment California Research and Policy Center

For Release: Tuesday, November 9, 2021

SACRAMENTO – California ranks first in the nation for growth in solar power generation since 2011, cumulative electric vehicle sales through 2020, public electric vehicle charging ports, and growth in battery storage since 2011, according to a new report released today by Environment California Research & Policy Center. Renewables on the Rise 2021: The rapid growth of renewables, electric vehicles and other building blocks of a clean energy future documents the growth of six key clean energy technologies across the U.S. over the past decade: solar power, wind power, battery storage, energy efficiency, electric vehicles and heat pumps. California has seen a 23-fold increase in the amount of electricity it gets from the sun since 2011; as of 2020 California’s installed solar capacity provides almost a quarter of the state’s electricity, enough to power over 4.5 million typical American homes. California also had a total of 772,421 electric vehicles on the road and ranks first in electric vehicle adoption. 

This analysis comes as beneficial rooftop solar programs like net-metering, which requires utilities to buy back excess solar energy from residential solar users, may be under threat as a new version of the program will be released by the California Public Utilities Commission. The state’s net-metering program serves as the bedrock of our renewable energy program by making it more affordable and attractive for residential users to install solar, and generate more clean energy for their communities and beyond.

Strong and supportive policies, such as net-metering, combined with improving technologies and falling prices, have played a key role in driving adoption of rooftop solar panels among residential users. It is clear that state agencies should protect and expand such policies to continue to increase solar panel adoption moving forward.

“California is truly setting the pace in the race toward 100% clean and renewable energy,” said Lizzi Nickerson, clean energy associate with Environment California Research & Policy Center. “Californians can look forward to a cleaner, healthier future, thanks to our state’s leadership in renewable energy. Beyond top-ranking growth in solar energy, California is leagues beyond the rest in electric vehicles sales and charging ports. Transportation is the most polluting industry in our state, so it makes sense that nearly half of all national EV sales have been in California.”

In addition to highlighting states that have made the most progress in adopting renewable energy technologies, the research also details the rapid gains achieved nationally over the past decade. According to the report, America produced almost four times as much renewable electricity from the sun and the wind in 2020 as in 2011. Additionally, if wind, solar and geothermal generation continue growing at the same 15% annual rate, renewables could meet the nation’s electricity needs by 2035. 

“Millions of Americans and Californians are already reaping the benefits of the dramatic clean energy progress we’ve made so far,” Nickerson said. “But we didn’t arrive here by magic; forward-thinking people and their legislators demanded it. As California leaders debate how best to invest in the future of our state, they should focus on helping clean energy thrive. Governor Newsom should keep the momentum going by accelerating California’s transition to 100% clean energy.”


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