On Saturday, California Ran on 100 Percent Renewables. The First Time, but Not the Last.

May 2, 2022

After Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute mile record, within 10 years, 336 others were also able to do it.

Not long ago, engineers were taught that a grid with more than 5 or 10 percent renewable energy would be dangerous and unmanageable.

Times Change.

Renew Economy:

Less than two weeks after notching up a record 97.6% of instantaneous renewables on its grid, California has passed a major new milestone, with 100% of the state’s electricity supplied by renewable sources for a short period over the weekend.

According to the California Independent System Operator, the milestone was achieved within a 15 minute period between 2.45pm and 3pm on Saturday April 30, California time, marking the first time ever the massive state has been powered entirely by renewables.

Such levels have become common in smaller grids such as South Australia, but the milestone in California – one of the world’s biggest economies and biggest grids – is hugely significant.

As illustrated in the charts (above), when state electricity demand passed 18GW at around 2.50pm, renewable energy was supplying around 18.6GW, compared to just over 2GW each from nuclear and gas, and a measly 9MW from coal.

The state has been edging towards the 100% milestone for weeks, hitting a previous high of 97.6% on April 03, which had in turn beat the previous record of 96.4 per cent set on March 27.

The milestone was celebrated on social media platforms including Twitter and LinkedIn as the first, but definitely not last time for a state that is shooting for 60% renewables by 2030 100% “carbon free” by 2045.

USAToday:

Renewable electricity met 100% of California’s demand for the first time on Saturday, environmentalists said, much of it from large amounts of solar power produced along Interstate 10, an hour east of the Coachella Valley.

While partygoers celebrated in the blazing sunshine at the Stagecoach music festival, energy demand statewide hit 18,672 megawatts at 2:45 p.m. local time, and 37,172 megawatts were available to meet it. The power came from renewables, according to a continuous tracker provided by California Independent System Operator, or CAISO,  a nonprofit that oversees the state’s bulk electric power system and transmission lines.

Solar power provided 12,391 megawatts – two-thirds of the amount needed. The milestone lasted almost 15 minutes before edging down to about 97% renewables.

“Early indications are we may have hit a new record for the amount of renewables serving load, but we will need time to verify the numbers,” CAISO spokeswoman Anne Gonzales said.

Environmentalists who’ve pushed for years for all of California’s power to come from renewables were jubilant as they watched the tracker edge to 100%.

2 Responses to “On Saturday, California Ran on 100 Percent Renewables. The First Time, but Not the Last.”


  1. We managed to do the same in the Netherlands a few weeks ago. It is possible so lets do it!

  2. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    I did a bit of a double take at the sight of the lines going negative, til I realized they were batteries and import/export lines.

    Note the batteries sucking up the cheap juice as the solar climbed.


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