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California needs clean firm power, and so does the rest of the world.

September 7, 2021 Category: Climate, Electricity

Three detailed models of the future of California’s power system all show that California needs carbon-free electricity sources that don’t depend on the weather.

California’s energy planners project that electricity demand in California will nearly double from today to 2045, as more end uses in our economy currently powered by fossil fuels, from cars to the heating of building, transition to electricity. Electrification would increase California’s peak demand for electricity from about 50 gigawatts today to about 100 gigawatts midcentury. How will California maintain the affordability and reliability of electricity supplies while tackling the twin tasks of decarbonization and electrification?

To answer these questions, we convened a group of energy system experts who used three different optimization models of California’s electricity system to quantify the costs of a number of different future scenarios for new sources of clean, reliable electric power. Groups from Princeton and Stanford Universities ran the first two models; the third was by a group from the consulting firm Energy and Environmental Economics (E3).