California hits solar power record: Meets nearly half demand

By: Rod Walton and Jeff Postelwait |

The portion of solar energy used on the California grid hit a record Sunday by supplying nearly half of demand, according to the California Independent System Operator.

California ISO reported on its Twitter feed that the all-time peak percentage of demand served by solar hit 49.95 percent at 12:58 p.m. that day. The previous record was 47.2 percent on May 14, 2017.

The ISO manages 80 percent of the power grid across California and Nevada, according to reports. California ISO’s home state has added about 2,000 MW of solar capacity annually for the past three years.

Overall, California has more than 17,000 MW of installed capacity. The state’s Renewables Portfolio Standard calls for clean energy to account for 33 percent of retail electricity sales by 2020.

In February 2018, one of California’s big three utilities, Pacific Gas & Electric, announced it had reached California’s 2020 renewable energy goal three years ahead of schedule, and now delivers nearly 80 percent of its electricity from greenhouse-gas free resources.

The company announced 33 percent of its electricity came from renewable resources including solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and small hydroelectric sources in 2017.

Southern California Edison has proposed doubling the use of carbon-free electricity from 40 percent today to 80 percent by 2030, supported by energy storage.

SCE‘s plan calls for increasing the use of large-scale, carbon-free generation such as wind, solar, and large hydroelectric power plants to at least 80 percent of electricity delivered to customers, continued use of distributed rooftop solar and doubling energy efficiency by 2030

San Diego Gas & Electric is investing in advanced flow battery technology, in part to help it make better use of the solar power resources available in Southern California.

During the four-year demonstration project, SDG&E will be researching if flow battery technology can economically enhance the delivery of reliable energy to customers, integrate growing amounts of renewable energy and increase the flexibility in the way the company manages the power grid.

The vanadium redox flow battery storage facility will provide 2 MW of energy, enough to power the energy equivalent of about 1,000 homes for up to four hours. Like other battery storage systems, the battery will act like a sponge to soak up renewable energy harnessed from the sun and release it when resources are in high demand.

California hits solar power record: Meets nearly half demand