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California ran almost entirely on renewable energy earlier this month

California has been inching toward fossil fuel-free power for the past several years, according to a statement from the state's Independent System Operator. But this milestone marks the first time that the state has come a few gigawatts away from being completely renewable.

In late March, the state reached a peak of 96.4 percent of renewable power coming on to the grid.

“This new record is testament to the hard work and collaboration of many people, from policymakers to system operators,” said ISO President and CEO Elliot Mainzer, in a statement. “While these all-time highs are for a brief time, they solidly demonstrate the advances being made to reliably achieve California’s clean energy goals.”

The power grid in California hit these milestones only briefly, but the achievements point toward a future when renewables (likely with additional energy storage) provide all of the power to meet the state's needs.

“When we see renewable energy peaks like this, we are getting to re-imagine what the grid will look like for generations to come,” said Ashutosh Bhagwat, the chair of the board governing the state's power distribution. “These moments help crystallize the vision of the modern, efficient and sustainable grid of the future.”

The record for California's power system was accompanied by two new records in renewable generation for solar power -- which reached a peak of 13,628 megawatts in April -- and wind power, which hit 6,265 MW of generation in March.

With the growth of energy storage on the California grid projected to reach 4,000 megawatts by June, there may be an opportunity to reach 100% renewable power on California's grid later this year.

Storage is vital for reliability during the transition to renewable power, California's power management organization said in a statement. Because it charges using solar and ink power during the day and feeds that power back into the grid on summer nights when production has ended and demand remains pretty high.


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