Published: Fri, September 14, 2018
Sci-tech | By Carrie Guzman

California's commitment to 100 percent 'clean energy' by 2045, explained

California's commitment to 100 percent 'clean energy' by 2045, explained

Environment America affiliate Environment California played a key role in driving the bill through both houses of the state legislature, and to the governor's desk. Jerry Brown on Monday signed a bill requiring the state to source electricity from exclusively carbon-free sources by 2045, a move aimed at combating climate change that clashes with U.S. President Donald Trump's pro-fossil fuel policies. The new law gives California the most far-reaching clean energy goals of any US state, along with Hawaii, which set a similar target in 2015 of 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2045.

"There's no understating the importance of this measure", Brown said, moments before signing the two actions. It's hoped that California will eventually become carbon neutral, removing as much CO2 from the atmosphere as it emits.

Brown's signing came days before he hosts a gathering of local, global and business leaders in San Francisco to highlight the urgency of addressing climate change. The state's biggest utilities, however, opposed the measure.

"We want others to do likewise, and if enough people often enough do what is needed we will curb global warming", Brown said during an interview with The Associated Press. "But it must be done", Brown said.

"This bill and the executive order put California on a path to meet the goals of Paris and beyond", Brown said in a statement. It is more of a goal than a mandate.

California investor-owned utilities are already demonstrating their leadership toward achieving SB 100 goals.

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About 26.9% of the state's generation now comes from hydro, with 26.9% from renewables and 43.3% from natural gas.

Experts say that while a goal of having 100% renewable energy by 2050 is an important one to strive for, there is some concern as to whether it is attainable. Another potential solution is pumped storage, in which water is pumped uphill in the afternoon using solar energy and then released through hydroelectric generators after the sun sets.

Impressively, The Hill notes that this makes California the largest economy in the world to commit to exclusively using renewable energy from solar, wind, and water.

The order directs several state agencies to set targets for artificially removing carbon dioxide from the air through a process known as "sequestration". Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) requires the state to obtain all of its electricity from clean sources - such as solar, wind and hydropower - by 2045.

Monday's law goes further, saying the last 40 percent of the 100 percent total can come from "carbon-free" sources, including large dams, nuclear power and even natural gas-fired power plants, if they can capture and store the carbon in the ground, which so far is an unproven technology.

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