When California gets its solar power plants up and running, it will save the state millions of dollars in electric bills
By Scott J. AndersonPublished Apr 06, 2017 08:32:21When California got its solar electricity plants up in the air, it saved the state $5.4 billion in electricity costs in 2019, according to the state Department of Energy.
That is nearly two-thirds of the cost of electricity the state spent on transmission, distribution, and storage for that year.
California has about 16,000 solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and over 300,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of storage, including solar PV modules that can be sold as batteries for electric vehicles or solar energy storage for homes and businesses.
“Our goal is to continue to invest in these technologies, but it’s not enough just to get them up and operational,” said John McQuaid, the director of the State Energy Commission.
“We need to get more efficient, more efficient energy from renewables, and we need to continue building out our transmission infrastructure and storage infrastructure,” he said.
The state has invested more than $1.3 billion in the state’s solar energy systems since 2014, according the Department of Public Utilities, and McQuain noted that many of the state�s investments have come in the past five years.
The state also has invested $2 billion in solar power generation capacity since 2014 and is now operating a total of 1,700 solar plants.
The department has also been working on solar energy incentives and loan guarantees for more than 2,000 companies in the solar industry.
California currently has more than 500 solar power projects under construction.
The goal is for the state to add 1,000 to 1,500 solar power units by 2020.
McQuaid noted that a number of the solar projects have already begun operating.
The California Public Utilities Commission, in partnership with the state, is also working to develop solar energy incentive programs for residential and commercial customers.
The solar industry has been growing at an accelerating rate in California, as well as around the country, according a 2016 report from the Solar Energy Industries Association.
Solar energy installations are projected to reach over 13,000 megawatts by 2030, up from just 1,300 megawatts in 2018.
In the next 15 years, the industry is expected to add an additional 4,300 MW, or nearly 20 percent of the nation�s total capacity.
According to the report, solar is expected in nearly all of California�s major metros by 2040.
The report said that the state also expects to see a 25 percent increase in the demand for electricity in the future.
The number of new solar installations in California reached an all-time high of 9,724 in March, the largest month of the year in the history of the industry.
The average solar installation in California in 2019 was 2.6 megawatts.
In addition to the solar power, California has a number other renewables, including wind, geothermal, and solar thermal.
McQuays said that by 2020, the state plans to have 2,300 gigawatts of wind energy capacity installed, nearly 20% of its total power capacity.
In addition, he said, there are about 2,500 gigawatts (or nearly 15 percent) of solar thermal power in the system, and he expects that to increase by about half.
The Department of Power and Energy has also set aside about $600 million to help fund a pilot project to create a “smart grid” system that can help ensure the grid can function in the event of a natural disaster or emergency.
The Department of Transportation also has committed to adding about 1,400 MW of solar energy by 2026, up about half of the amount the state planned to add.
“It�s a big part of our future energy plan,” McQuay said.