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CLIMATE ACTION PROGRAMME

19 May 2017

67% of California’s power came from renewables last Saturday

Renewable energy sources provided 67 per cent of all electricity used by the California Independent System Operator on Saturday 13 May, a new state record. 

Thanks to a prolonged period of sunshine and strong winds in addition to heavy rainfall filling the state’s reservoirs at hydroelectric plants, California reached a new renewable energy milestone last weekend.

On Saturday afternoon, renewables – including wind, solar, geothermal and small hydropower projects – generated a record 67.2 per cent of the state’s power, controlled by the California Independent System Operator.

Specifically, at 3pm, 8.7 gigawatts GW of photovoltaic (PV) solar, 494 megawatts (MW) of concentrated solar power and 4,576 GW of wind power were recorded.

This follows a strong week of wind and solar generation, with solar reaching a record output of 9.87 GW on Thursday, followed by a peak wind production of nearly 4.8 GW on Saturday.

According to PV Magazine, a combination of lower weekend demand and strong solar and wind production meant that total renewable energy generation – excluding large hydro – rose above 14 GW during Saturday afternoon.

Sachu Constantine, the Director of Policy at the Center for Sustainable Energy, said: “The fact that the grid can handle 67 per cent renewable power from multiple sources — it’s a great moment, and it shows the potential we have.”

Large hydropower facilities contributed a further 13.5 per cent to the grid.

Saturday’s numbers are the latest evidence of what is expected to be a record-setting year for renewable energy production in California.

California continues to add new solar projects throughout the state and the upcoming seasonal sunshine coupled with the brimming reservoirs thanks to last winter’s rain are sure to aid the state’s target of sourcing 33 per cent of the utilities sector’s power from renewables by 2020.

According estimates from the California Energy Commission, up to 21 per cent of the state’s total electricity output could come from hydropower in 2017.

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