• Electricity generation from renewables exceeded 90,000 gigawatt-hours (GWh) for the first time in 2020 (generation from renewable sources were about 500 GWh short of 90,000 GWh in 2018). Although generation from renewables has not significantly increased since 2018, the increase in total RPS percentage is due to the decrease in generation from non-RPS eligible sources (182,368 GWh in 2020)—3.9 percent lower than in 2019 and 6.9 percent lower than in 2018. Solar and wind are the largest renewable sources, making up 13.2 percent and 11.1 percent, respectively, of the state’s total power mix.
  • Generation from biomass, geothermal, and small hydro remain stagnant—electricity generation from these sources, which totaled 23,813 GWh in 2020, was lower than the total in 2002 (25,468 GWh), the inception year of California’s RPS program. The drought has also significantly hampered electricity generation from hydroelectric. Small hydro’s share of generation in 2020 (1.39%) is one of the lowest since the RPS program’s inception, surpassing only the shares in 2013, 2014 and 2015, when California was also facing a severe drought. Ongoing generation from hydroelectric is expected to remain low, as long as the drought persists, which may turn into a permanent state of being. 81

81 Baker, D. R., Sullivan, B. K., and Saul, J. California’s dry season is turning into a permanent state of being. August 13, 2021. Retrieved from: https://phys.org/news/2021-08-california-season-permanent-state.html

  • So far, solar has dominated renewable generation; there is a need to diversify California’s in-state clean energy generation with battery storage, offshore wind, pumped storage, and more in addition to the existing renewables—which is specifically called upon in Governor Newsom’s emergency proclamation to expedite clean energy projects in July 2021.82 Greater integration with the Western grid could also help the state meet its clean energy goals while reducing the need for renewable energy curtailments. The Energy Imbalance Market (EIM) and Extended Day-Ahead Market (EDAM) together allow the state to buy and sell energy on the broader western grid to help reduce the need for renewable curtailment and improve the state’s ability to meet its energy needs at peak times.

82 Office of Governor Newsom. Governor Newsom Signs Emergency Proclamation to Expedite Clean Energy Projects and Relieve Demand on the Electrical Grid During Extreme Weather Events This Summer as Climate Crisis Threatens Western States. Published July 30, 2021. Retrieved from: https://www.gov.ca.gov/2021/07/30/governor-newsom-signs-emergency-proclamation-to-expedite-clean-energy-projects-and-relieve-demand-on-the-electrical-grid-during-extreme-weather-events-this-summer-as-climate-crisis-threatens-western-s/