Renewable Energy

California has set ambitious renewable energy and decarbonization goals, including a target to reach carbon neutrality by 2045. In August 2022, the California Legislature passed Senate Bill (SB 1020), setting interim targets of 90 percent clean electricity by 2035 and 95 percent by 2040 on the way to carbon neutrality by 2045.114 In 2022, total renewable energy generation in the power mix grew by 10.2 percent from 2021, much faster than the growth of 3.4 percent of the total energy in the power mix. The percentage of renewables in the overall power mix rose by 6.5 percent in 2022 in absolute terms to 35.8 percent. Historically, the fastest growth happened from 2015 to 2016 (grew 14.2%) and growth has slowed since 2018. California needs to recommit to adding more renewables to the grid in order to meet our goals.

In 2022, these is the significant 18.8 percent upswing in small hydro generation, which stands as the most substantial growth among all renewable sources. This surge can be attributed to heightened levels of rainfall, significantly bolstering hydroelectric output. Solar PV generation has also experienced an uptick of 21.8 percent. Aside from in-state generated renewables, California now imports 29.2 percent of its electricity supply from neighboring markets, within the imports, 30.0 percent of imports from Northwest are RPS-eligible resources, and 37.5 percent of Southwest imports are RPS-eligible resources. 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 8.7 percent each year from 2022 to 2026, revised upward from 8.3 percent previously.

As California continues to surge forward in its commitment to propel the clean energy transition, the state’s power grid will face considerable strain as more electric vehicles are adopted and there is increased demand for cooling due to heat waves. To address this challenge, the Biden Administration allocated $3 billion through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), providing essential funding and resources to support the expansion of transmission lines.115 Furthermore, in alignment with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) unveiled the Transmission Facilitation Program (TFP), a $2.5 billion initiative aimed at facilitating the construction of new interregional transmission lines across the nation.116 However, preparing California’s grid to manage an influx of distributed energy resources117 could cost approximately $50 billion in the service territories of its three investor-owned utilities by 2035, barring additional measures to reduce costs or manage load.118 California’s largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) announced it has launched a distributed energy management system (DERMS) to enable greater amounts of distributed energy to participate on the grid. The utility also has over 1.2 GW of grid-scale energy storage online, and that is expected to reach 1.7 GW by September 2023.119

Renewable Electricity Generation and Power Mix
  • In 2022, the share of renewable sources in California's power mix (including imports) increased to 35.8 percent, a rise of 2.2 percent. In 2021, the growth rate of RPS-eligible resources in the power mix was 1.5 percent.

  • California maintains a significant lead in renewables, with an average yearly growth rate of 1.8 percent from 2008 to 2022, compared to the rest of U.S. growth rate of 0.9 percent.

  • Solar and wind are the largest renewable sources, making up 17.0 percent and 10.8 percent, respectively, of the state’s total power mix.

  • In 2022, hydroelectric generation (both small and large hydro) within the state witnessed a substantial rise of 21 percent, surging to 17,612 GWh from its previous mark of 14,567 GWh in 2021. 2022 was considerably rainier than 2021.

  • In 2022, the electricity generation of Waste Heat and Petroleum Coke (which are considered “Other” and neither fossil fuels nor renewables) in California reached an unprecedented low, totaling just 315 GWh, the lowest recorded since 2001.

  • California now imports 29.2 percent of its electricity supply from neighboring markets (meaning 29.2 percent of California electricity power mix are imports) with about 59.3 percent of that coming from the Southwest and 40.7 percent from the Northwest.

  • Southwest imports of RPS-eligible renewables (as a percentage of total imports from the Southwest) reached 37.5 percent in 2022, the highest share since 2001, while Northwest imports of RPS-eligible renewables as percentage of total imports in Northwest decreased from 35.5 percent to 30.0 percent in 2022. Southwest imports have a higher concentration of renewables (37.5%) than Northwest imports (30.0%).

  • Electricity generation from RPS-eligible renewable sources and large hydroelectric accounted for 45.1 percent of the power mix, a slight increase from 2021’s 42.8 percent. The decrease in generation from fossil fuel sources was mostly made up by solar energy.

  • In 2022, California achieved a momentous milestone by adding only renewable energy (solar and wind) while simultaneously phasing out 35.8 megawatts of coal-generated power, per the California Energy Commission (CEC).

Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and Community Choice Aggregators (CCAs)
  • Assembly Bill (AB 1279), passed in 2022, set a new target for California to reduce statewide GHG emissions by 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2045. This level of reduction is estimated to result in carbon neutrality in the state.

  • SB 100 (2018) set additional renewable energy targets that require the state to achieve 44 percent of retail sales from renewables by December 31, 2024, 52 percent by December 31, 2027, and 60 percent by December 31, 2030.

  • Electricity generated from RPS-eligible sources in the total power mix reached 35.8 percent in 2022. Although that is an increase from 2021, this growth rate of 2.2 percent is still less than what it needed to be in order to reach 2026 goals, as calculated in 2021. In 2021, the RPS-eligible sources would need to account for 36.9% of the power mix in 2022 in order to meet the 2026 goal on time.

  • 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 8.7 percent each year from 2022 to 2026, revised upward from 8.3 percent previously.

  • In 2022, total estimated annual load in Community Choice Aggregations in California increased 16.9 percent over 2021’s annual load, totaling 61,184 gigawatt-hours (GWh).

  • In 2022, two new Community Choice Aggregators (CCAs) came online. Orange County Power Authority added 2,003 annual load GWh in April 2022, while the City of Palmdale added 54 GWh in October 2022. Additionally, five CCAs expanded their annual load by an average of 1,081 GWh in 2022. In 2023, the annual load across all CCAs is expected to increase by another 6,227 GWh, according to the California Public Utilities Commission.

Distributed Energy Resources and Renewable Energy Curtailment
  • Since 2018, the residential sector had the most rebate-qualifying distributed energy resources (DERs) through the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP), mostly for electrochemical storage technologies (such as batteries, lithium-ion or otherwise).

  • Notably, since 2020, single family residential have become a leading sector in terms of rebate-qualifying DERs. Previously, commercial and government sectors had the most rebate-qualifying DERs.

  • In 2022, 31.9 megawatts (MW) of electrochemical storage (such as batteries, lithium-ion or otherwise) qualified for SGIP rebates, down 61.6 percent compared to 2021, which had 83.2 MW.

  • In 2022, California added 80.8 megawatt-hours (MWh) of SGIP energy storage capacity across all sectors, with the residential sector adding almost 98 percent of the energy storage capacity. The SGIP capacity added in 2022 was the smallest since 2017, and represents a 65.8 percent decrease over the capacity added in 2021 (236.0 MWh added in 2021). This is in contrast to recent significant growth in utility-scale storage, as detailed in subsequent sections.

  • Curtailments in the first seven months of 2023 represent a 2.15 times increase over the total curtailments in all of 2019 (965.2 GWh), which itself is more than 3.5 times of the total curtailment amount in 2018 (461.0 GWh). Curtailments through July 2023 are slightly higher than those recorded in over the same time period in 2022, representing a total increase of 2.6 percent (40% increase in wind, 0.9% increase in solar).

Renewables Interconnections and Installations
  • Interconnected distributed generation within the three investor-owned utilities service territories totaled 2,218 MW in 2022—a 30.3 percent increase from 2021. Residential continues to be the largest sector, accounting for 80.3 percent of the interconnected distributed generation installed (1,701 MW) in 2022.

  • As of 2022, California accounted for 40 percent of small-scale solar PV net generation in the residential sector nationwide, 30 percent in the commercial sector, and 71 percent in the industrial sector.

  • In 2022, cumulative installed wind capacity totaled 6,118 MW in California, almost unchanged from 2021 (6,046 MW).120 Meanwhile, the rest of the U.S. added 8,511 MW of wind capacity in 2020, reaching a total U.S. cumulative (excluding California) capacity of 144,132 MW.

Energy Storage and Capacity
  • In 2021, utility-scale lithium-ion battery storage more than quadrupled from 2020 levels, increasing by a factor of 4.3 over the amount reported in 2020.

  • The California-ISO (CAISO) added about 1 GW of battery storage between the summer of 2020 and the end of 2021, after a push to add capacity to the grid following rotating outages in August 2020.

  • The prevalence of lithium-ion battery projects across the state expanded considerably in 2021, with 11 counties in California hosting these installations within their respective territories.

  • In 2022, California Independent System Operator (CAISO) interconnected grid added 674 MW of solar storage and only 2.8 MW of natural gas. The total rated capacity added was 66.2 percent less in 2022 compared to 2021. Still, it is 38.1 percent higher than 2020.

  • By May 2023, stand-alone battery storage accounted for 47.1 percent of the total installed battery capacity, while co-located battery storage accounted for 35.3 percent of the total installed battery capacity, an increase by more than 50 percent in just one year.

  • From 2006 to May 2022, the average wait time for a new energy generation project to be connected to the transmission grid was three years. Geothermal has the longest average wait time of 10 years per project from application to actual interconnection, followed by solar, water wind turbine, averaging a three- year wait time per project. However, the wait time has also increased in the last couple of years. The typical project built in 2022 took five years from the interconnection request to commercial operations, compared to three years in 2015 and less than two years in 2008.121

  • Battery storage projects have the shortest wait time of only one year, while biofuel and natural gas average a two year wait time.


114 SB-1020 Clean Energy, Jobs, and Affordability Act of 2022. Available at:

115 Inflation Reduction Act. GRID DEPLOYMENT OFFICE. Released Dec 2022. Available at:

116 U.S. Department of Energy. Transmission Facilitation Program. Released Nov 2022. Assessed Aug 28,2023. Available at:

117 Distributed energy resources (DERs) are defined as distribution-connected distributed generation resources, energy efficiency, energy storage, electric vehicles, and demand response technologies.

118 California Public Utilities Commission. Cover sheet by the California Public Utilities Commission, Energy Division Electrification Impacts Study Part 1. Filed May 09 2023. Assessed Aug 28, 2023. Available at:

119 PV Magazine. California utility announces launch of distributed energy management system. July 26, 2023. Assessed Aug 28,2023. Available at:

120 Utility-scale wind capacity includes installations of wind turbines larger than 100-kW for the purpose of the AWEA U.S. Wind Industry Quarterly Market Reports. Annual capacity additions and cumulative capacity may not always add up due to decommissioned, uprated and repowered wind turbines. Wind capacity data for each year is continuously updated as information changes.

121 “Queued Up: Characteristics of Power Plants Seeking Transmission Interconnection As of the End of 2022.” Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. April 2023. Available at: