Energetics Completes Utility-Scale Renewable Generation Roadmap for the California Energy Commission

13, Jul

Energetics has completed a California Energy Commission (CEC) research roadmap project focused on helping California triple its renewable energy projection over the next decade. California Senate Bill 100 (SB-100), one of the most aggressive renewable energy mandates in the country, requires the state to supply 100% of its electricity sales from zero-carbon sources by 2045, and utilities to generate 60% of their power from renewable sources by 2030. To avoid technology lock-in, the CEC sought a broad approach for research across all utility-scale renewable energy resource areas in California. The roadmap provides a robust methodology to arrive at 17 recommended initiatives to guide research and development (R&D) activities across nine technology areas: solar photovoltaic, concentrated solar power, land-based wind, offshore wind, bioenergy, geothermal power, small hydropower, grid integration technologies, and energy storage systems.

Laurie ten Hope, CEC Deputy Director for the Energy Research and Development Division, applauded the roadmap’s value in R&D decision-making: “The insights and recommendations from this research roadmap will be valuable in informing the strategic direction of the Energy Commission’s R&D portfolio, helping accelerate our progress toward more cost-competitive, flexible, and reliable renewable energy generation for utility-scale applications.”

Energetics’ Harrison Schwartz was the lead analyst on the two-year project, with a number of technology specialists and subcontractors supporting the work: the Center for Sustainable Energy, DAV Energy, Renewable Energy Consulting Services Inc., Solar Power Consulting, and TSS Consultants. Sabine Brueske was the Energetics project manager, working with CEC project manager Silvia Palma-Rojas.

To ensure the roadmap considered every relevant aspect thoroughly, proven methodologies from past CEC roadmaps were employed to tap knowledge across all relevant areas. The team began with a literature review, then conducted a number of virtual engagement activities: 37 interviews, 7 surveys, and 7 webinars with stakeholders and subject matter experts; and 2 public input webinars (the graphic below depicts the methodology).

The research and interviews informed a technical assessment of the current state of renewable technologies in all nine areas. Surveys and webinars helped refine the findings to date and identify potential initiatives that could optimally and cost-effectively exploit the identified opportunities. These initiatives were included in a preliminary draft report that was issued for public comment. Energetics used the feedback to make edits to the preliminary draft, which was then reviewed in a supplementary public webinar. Both public webinars drew approximately 100 attendees.

The resulting roadmap identifies 17 initiatives with strong potential to address research gaps and associated barriers to achieving greater use of utility-scale renewable energy in California. Future research needs are classified as near-, mid-, and long-term. The report identifies impacts, including those on SB-100 targets, as well as performance and cost targets. The roadmap will help the CEC’s Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) program to make strategic funding decisions, provide optimal benefits to investor-owned utility (IOU) electric ratepayers, and maximize the use of public R&D investments.

The roadmap is available on the CEC website.

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