The percentage of California’s total power mix (in-state generation plus imports) from renewable sources rose 1.4 percent to 33.1 percent in 2020, barely meeting the interim goal of having 33 percent of generation from RPS-eligible sources.
Electricity generation from renewables exceeded 90,000 gigawatt-hours for the first time in 2020, but has not significantly increased since 2018. The increase in total RPS percentage is due to the decrease in generation from non-RPS eligible sources—3.9 percent lower than in 2019 and 6.9 percent lower than in 2018.
The drought significantly hampers electricity generation from hydroelectric. Small hydro’s share of generation in 2020 (1.39% of the power mix) is one of the lowest since the RPS program’s inception. Ongoing generation from hydroelectric is expected to remain low, as long as the drought persists.
Despite having a similar share of renewables, imports from the Southwest are more carbon intensive due to their higher percentage of generation from coal (17% in 2020) compared to Northwest imports (0.5%) and in-state generation (0.2%).
Electricity generation from RPS-eligible renewable sources and large hydroelectric made up 45.3 percent of the power mix, a slight decrease from 46.3 percent in 2019, mainly due to the drought.
Of the utility-scale power plants that came online after 2010, California added more capacity from solar than any other sources. However, in 2020, California actually added more natural gas plants (1.5 gigawatts) than any other sources including solar (1.3 gigawatts).
In 2020, cumulative installed capacity from wind totaled 5,983 megawatts (MW) in California, almost unchanged from 2019 (5,959 MW). Meanwhile, the rest of the U.S. continue to add wind capacity at a nice pace, adding 9,482 MW in 2020.
To meet the 2026 goal of 50 percent of generation from RPS-eligible renewable sources, California’s share of electricity generation from renewables would need to increase by 2.8 percent each year from 2018 to 2026, revised upward from 2.3 percent previously.