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50% Renewables by 2030...How Will California Do It?? - Part 1

03/20/15

  08:32:00 am, by Laurel Hamilton   , 420 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Energy Efficiency, Energy Storage, Solar Policy

50% Renewables by 2030...How Will California Do It?? - Part 1

California has a long-standing reputation as a clean energy trendsetter. The state leads the nation in solar energy usage, energy efficiency overall, cleaner cars and energy storage. Currently on track to reach our goal of one third energy derived from renewable sources by 2020…Governor Jerry Brown kicked it up a notch in January by proposing California achieve an unprecedented 50 percent energy from renewable sources by 2030.

How will California accomplish such an ambitious target? This is the first in a series of blogs in which Run on Sun will addresss the challenges and possible solutions to reaching 50% by 2030 as opportunities unveil.

50% by 2030: Part 1 - Maximize Urban Spaces

SoCal's Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System

Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating Station

While rooftop solar is great for offsetting the usage of those fortunate enough to be able to invest in an array, most people tend to think utility-scale solar requires wide open spaces only available in remote parts of our state. The best example being Ivanpah, the world’s largest solar power plant - generating 345 megawatts on five square miles near the Cali/Nevada border. However, growing to 50% renewables using vast spreads of desert solar arrays has the potential to harm ecosystems. Far away solar farms also incur enormous infrastructure costs just to transport the power from the source to your toaster.

Fortunately a new study provides evidence that we needn’t look further than our urban back yards to find sufficient space for solar. Stanford researchers published their findings in the March edition of Nature Climate Change:

We tested the hypothesis that land, energy and environmental compatibility can be achieved with small- and utility-scale solar energy within existing developed areas in the state of California.  We found that the quantity of accessible energy potentially produced from photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) within the built environment exceeds current statewide demand. 

Westridge School

Urban solar installed at Westridge School by Run on Sun

The urban landscapes we design are already great at capturing the sun’s rays, as evidenced by the heat island effect. It turns out we have the capacity to develop enough solar power to meet three to five times California’s demand just by utilizing urban flat spaces such as carports and rooftops. Obviously developing small and utility-scale solar in our built environment greatly improves efficiency and cuts infrastructure costs by generating power directly where it is used.

As the study’s authors note, it’s important to remember there will always be trade-offs. It’s not an all-or-nothing, urban-or-rural question but looking more closely at the opportunities for solar in our urban backyards should be a priority.

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Comment from: ashok
ashok
5 stars
All household power should be through Renewables
04/10/15 @ 08:38
Comment from: Scott Watkins
Scott Watkins
5 stars
We should be pushing this in all 50 states.
04/10/15 @ 13:52


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Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
Run on Sun also offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities, and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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