Renewable Energy in California
California leads the USA in generation capacity from geothermal, biomass, solar PV, and solar thermal electric projects, while placing second in wind and hydropower generation capacity. California’s rich resource base and its early, sustained support for the renewable energy industry has been successful in attracting and incubating leading renewable energy companies which, in turn, has created many high-quality jobs.
In the 1980s, California has been a pioneer in the production of renewable energy with several wind farms. Wind power produces only 1.5 to 2% of the electricity in California but the goal is to reach 20% in 2030. The main production sites are: Altamont Pass (more than 4,800 windmill with a total capacity of 576 MW); San Gorgonio Pass (more than 3,500 wind turbines with a capacity exceeding 615 MW); Tehachapi Pass (produces electricity for 500,000 people).
Social acceptability is better than in France because the turbines can be installed away from homes.
Photovoltaic and Thermodynamic solar.
In 2014, California became the first state in the United States to surpass the 5% of electricity generated by solar power plants of commercial size (1 MW or more), with 9.9 TWh in 2014 against 3.8 TWh in 2013 (1.9% of total electricity).
In addition, through various financial incentives, 2,300 MW of small solar installations have been added on the roofs of houses or commercial buildings, thanks to the collapse of cost solar panels, divided by five in five years: in 2015, about 2.5 million California households use energy produced by their solar panels.
The largest solar thermal center is located in California. Located in the Mojave Desert, the Ivanpah solar plant would cover consumption of 140,000 homes with its 173,000 heliostat mirrors. It opens the way for the production of electricity to large scale solar thermal power plants of new generation.
Geothermal and Hydraulic.
California has the world’s biggest geothermal field, known as “The Geysers”, north of San Francisco, with 1 517 MW of installed capacity. To keep up production at this intensely used site, the complex is fed treated sewage water from the Santa Rosa and Lake County sewage treatment plants. Southern California also has a huge field, where 570 MW of capacity is exploited. Recent progress in drilling techniques, used for extracting shale gas in particular, should encourage the development of the geothermal sector.
The American River and its affluent (like most rivers in California) are well equipped and dams used for hydropower generation.
North rivers have several hydroelectric dams. One finds include large dams on the Colorado. Hoover Dam, located in Nevada, provides some of the electricity of Southern California.
The drought in California for several years prevents full utilization of hydroelectric power.
The aim is 33% of the power from eligible renewable sources by 2020 (midterm targets of 20% by December 31, 2013 and 25% by December 31, 2016). In 2014, the state obtained 22% of its electricity from no hydropower renewables including wind, solar, and biomass.
California has set a target of 50% of electricity generated from renewable resources by 2030.
According to a study, it’s possible to produce 80% of electricity from renewable resources in 2050, whose 50% of intermittent generation (solar and wind).