TODAY’S STUDY: THE PROGRESS OF NEW ENERGY IN CALIFORNIA
Tracking Progress – Renewable Energy
March 2014 (California Energy Commission)
Renewable energy is increasingly helping California meet its growing energy needs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and grow the state’s economy. In August 2013, the California Energy Commission reorganized and launched the Renewable Energy Division to support the Energy Commission’s strong commitment to California’s renewable energy goals and policies. RPS Generation Targets California is a clean energy leader with an aggressive Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS). This standard requires all utilities in the state to achieve the following RPS targets:
• An average of 20 percent of retail electricity sales from renewable sources in 2011-2013.
• 25 percent by the end of 2016.
• 33 percent by the end of 2020.
• No less than 33 percent per year after 2020.
In 2012, California served about 22 percent of retail electricity sales from facilities using renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, and small hydroelectric.1 The Energy Commission estimates this electricity was generated from about 12,300 megawatts (MW)2 of wholesale renewable capacity, with an additional 1,800 MW of renewable self-generation that reduced retail electricity demand.3
Renewable Capacity in California
California’s operating renewable energy capacity4 grew from 14,100 MW in 2012 to 17,400 MW in 2013, composed of a mix of 15,500 MW of wholesale capacity and 1,900 MW of self-generation capacity. A total of 3,300 MW of renewable energy came online in California in 2013, increasing the state’s renewable capacity by more than 20 percent.
During the first quarter of 2014, preliminary data show that 180 MW of new wholesale renewables and 70 MW of self-generation have come on-line. As of March 2014, the Energy Commission estimates that 17,650 MW of RPS-eligible5 renewable capacity is operating in California.6
Wholesale Renewable Energy Mix
Total wholesale capacity on-line by the end of 2013 for which the energy generated was sold to a utility or the market was about 15,500 MW. Table 1 shows the mix by fuel type and includes out-of-state facilities for which the first point of interconnection is with a California balancing authority. Because they serve California loads, such facilities are considered in-state resources. Preliminary data collected for this latest update show that, in 2014, an additional 180 MW of renewable capacity has come on-line, including 125 MW of solar thermal, 45 MW of biomass, and 10 MW of distributed solar PV.
Renewable Distributed Generation (20 MW or smaller, as of March 2014)
Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. set a goal of installing 12,000 MW of renewable distributed generation in California by 2020. Figure 1 shows progress toward that goal. The data include facilities that are used for self-generation and wholesale.
By March 2014, California had nearly 4,500 MW of operating or installed distributed generation capacity, with an additional 1,600 MW pending.8 California’s distributed generation renewable energy programs could add another 3,000 MW if the programs are fully subscribed. If current programs succeed in transforming the market for renewable distributed generation and distributed generation solar PV costs continue to trend down, much of the nearly 2,900 MW of additional future capacity needed to achieve the 12,000 MW goal could occur through market mechanisms.
Past and current renewable distributed generation programs include utility feed-in tariffs along with state-mandated self-generation incentives such as the Self-Generation Incentive Program, the California Solar Initiative, the New Solar Homes Partnership, publicly owned electric utility (POU) solar programs, and the Emerging Renewables Program.
Renewable Siting – Wholesale Projects Expected After 2013
As of the end of 2013, an estimated 11,300 MW of renewable capacity were permitted throughout California that could come on-line in future years. Of this capacity, 4,000 MW have also secured a power purchase agreement with a utility, suggesting a high likelihood that the facilities will be constructed. Of the 4,000 MW, there are 2,800 MW of renewable energy projects with current permits and utility power purchase agreements that are expected to come on-line in 2014. Table 2 summarizes expected capacity additions in 2014 by resource and technology type.
Renewable Energy – More Information
The Energy Commission is tracking progress toward achieving the state’s RPS, the Governor’s 12,000 MW goal for renewable distributed generation, the state’s 3,000 MW goal for self-generation solar systems, and permitting and construction of new renewable energy facilities in California.
Renewables Portfolio Standard
The Energy Commission certifies eligible renewable energy resources that may be used to satisfy the RPS procurement requirements of retail sellers and POUs, and uses an accounting system to verify the RPS compliance of retail sellers and POUs (Pub. Util. Code, § 399.25). The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is responsible for establishing RPS procurement requirements for retail sellers, determining compliance based on verified renewable generation data provided by the Energy Commission, and imposing penalties for noncompliance (Pub. Util. Code, § 399.13 – 399.17). The Energy Commission is responsible for establishing the RPS enforcement procedures and determining compliance for the POUs, and the California Air Resources Board (ARB) is authorized to impose penalties for noncompliance of POUs (Pub. Util. Code, § 399.30).
Building on previous RPS requirements in California, Senate Bill X1-2 (Simitian, Chapter 1, Statutes of 2011) established the following statewide portfolio targets: an average of 20 percent of retail sales from eligible renewable resources by January 1, 2011, through December 31, 2013; 25 percent by December 31, 2016; 33 percent by December 31, 2020; and no less than 33 percent in all subsequent years.
Figure 2 shows the amount of renewable generation in California in 2011, excluding large hydroelectric generation, along with estimates of the amount of renewable procurement needed to meet the renewable targets for the 2011-2013, 2014-2016, and 2017-2020 compliance periods. The amount of potential renewable procurement if all retail seller RPS contracts and POU RPS contracts are realized is also shown in the graph.
The estimated renewable procurement needed for each RPS compliance period is based on the Energy Commission’s forecast of retail sales that was adopted in 2012 (the mid case), multiplied by the applicable compliance period procurement targets for CPUC-regulated retail sellers and for POUs subject to Energy Commission RPS regulations. Factors that can affect retail sales include policy goals for energy efficiency, self-generation, and combined heat and power, as well as expected levels of economic growth and population growth.
Figure 3 shows renewable generation procured for California from 1983-2011 by resource type.
Table 3 shows the capacity of wholesale renewable energy facilities on-line as of the end of 2012 by county. The table provides data on the number of facilities and MW by fuel type. Some facilities are physically located out-of-state but are electrically connected to the California Independent System Operator (California ISO) and are therefore included in Table 3.
12,000 MW Distributed Generation
Figure 1 in the Overview shows progress toward the Governor’s goal of 12,000 MW of renewable distributed generation by 2020. Through March 2014, 4,500 MW of renewable distributed generation projects were operating in California, including 2,480 MW of wholesale and 2,030 MW of self- generation. During the first quarter of 2014, 10 MW of wholesale distributed solar and 70 MW of self- generation solar became operational. Table 4 summarizes on-line and pending renewable distributed generation by fuel type.
Table 5 provides California county-specific data used in Figure 1 and Table 3.
3,000 Megawatts of Self-Generation Solar Systems
As stated on the Go Solar California website, Senate Bill 1 (Murray, Chapter 132, Statutes of 2006) set the following goals for installed self-generation photovoltaic systems: 3,000 megawatts of solar energy systems on new and existing residential and commercial sites by 2017 and placing solar energy systems on 50 percent of new homes by 2020.
There are three parts to the 3,000 MW goal:
1. 1,940 MW for IOUs for commercial buildings and existing homes (including low-income programs) as part of the California Solar Initiative.
2. 700 MW for the POUs.
3. 360 MW for IOUs for the New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP).
As of March 2014, the California Solar Initiative program, provided incentives for nearly 1,480 MW of installed capacity and reserved funding for more than 250 MW of pending capacity toward achieving the goal of 1,940 MW for commercial buildings and existing residential buildings in IOU service territories.9
Based on annual SB 1 reports submitted to the Energy Commission in 2012, POUs have installed nearly 160 MW toward the 700 MW goal.10
As of March 2014, the NSHP had more than 36 MW of installed capacity and an additional 47 MW of capacity pending (40 MW of which received a funding reservation) toward the program goal of 360 MW. As the market recovers from the housing crisis of the past few years, builders and homeowners are submitting applications at a faster pace to reserve NSHP funding for their projects.
NSHP funding reserved for new home construction projects has increased from a low of about $18.3 million in 2009 to almost $47 million in 2012.11 In 2013, the NSHP reserved more than $45 million.
Another goal of SB 1 was to transform the solar market such that solar energy systems are a viable mainstream option for both homes and businesses by 2017. A key component of transforming California’s commercial and residential solar markets is the continued decline in prices of photovoltaic systems. From 1998 to 2012, installed system costs have declined from $12 per watt to under $6 per watt.12 Median installed system costs, in 2013, continued this downward trend. Median prices reported to the California Solar Initiative program were $5 per watt in 2013.13 Analysts at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) SunShot Initiative expect photovoltaic system prices to continue to decline.
The U.S. DOE SunShot Initiative has set a goal of reducing total installed home PV system costs to $1.50/watt by 2020. Although module prices continue to decrease, the current trajectory “does not achieve the SunShot targets by 2020.”15 Nonhardware module prices have become a major driver for PV system prices.16 A recent National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) study has found that aggressive strategies are needed to reduce nonhardware system costs (soft costs) to meet the 2020 target. Figure 4 shows a potential roadmap to reducing soft costs and achieving the 2020 target.
Renewable Energy Facility Siting in California
The Energy Commission has statutory responsibility for licensing thermal power plants 50 MW and larger along with associated infrastructure associated with the plant, such as transmission lines to the first point of interconnection with the grid, fuel supply lines, and water pipelines, among others. The Energy Commission's 12-month, one-stop permitting process is a certified regulatory program under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and includes many opportunities for public participation. Although coordinated with all state, local, or regional agencies, the Energy Commission’s certification addresses all CEQA requirements for new power plants under its jurisdiction and is in-lieu of all permits otherwise required by local, regional, or state agencies. The Energy Commission also coordinates with all applicable federal agencies to ensure that certification incorporates the necessary conditions to address any federal requirements.
The Energy Commission has made substantial progress on renewable energy facility siting. Table 6, Table 7, and Table 8 provide status data and details on recent renewable energy siting cases that are under Energy Commission jurisdiction.
Table 9 shows all renewable energy projects in California, including those outside the Energy Commission’s jurisdiction, that have received environmental permits. The information includes projects that are in preconstruction or under construction. The table shows the number of projects and capacity by county and by renewable technology type (for example, wind, wind repowering, solar PV, solar PV/natural gas combo, solar thermal projects not yet filed with the Energy Commission). The data were last updated December 2013.
Due to frequent changes in project circumstances (for example, loss of developer financing, delays in obtaining power purchase agreements, and inability to meet other agencies’ permitting requirements), project status data are fluid. Therefore, the renewable energy siting information presented in Tables 6 through 9 reflects a snapshot in time relative to the status of projects in the Energy Commission siting database.