California Solar Output Sets New Record

When California’s solar power production peaked at 4,093 MW on Mar. 8, it set a new record, supplying nearly 18% of the state’s electricity demand at the time.

California is the largest producer of solar power in the nation with 5,231 MW of installed capacity. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, 2,621 MW of photovoltaic (PV) solar capacity was added in California last year, which was more than half of all PV installed in the U.S. Last month, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating Station—the world’s largest concentrating solar power facility—was dedicated in a ceremony keynoted by U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz. The sun was definitely shining in the Golden State on Mar. 8, resulting in a solar capacity factor of 78% at 1:41 p.m.

The state is a renewable energy juggernaut. It leads the country in geothermal capacity by a wide margin with 2,732 MW installed, which amounts to over 80% of the nation’s total. It is second in wind resources installed with a 5,890-MW capacity, behind only Texas. As the third largest hydroelectric producing state, behind Washington and Oregon, it maintains a relatively green, energy mix. (See “THE BIG PICTURE: Power Pie Pieces” in the February issue of POWER for other state comparisons.)

In a statement announcing the solar production record, Steve Berberich, California ISO president and CEO, said, “This shows that California is making remarkable progress in not only getting new resources approved and connected to the grid, but making meaningful contributions in keeping the lights on as well. The milestones illustrate that we are well into a new era when clean, renewable energy is shouldering its share of our electricity needs—and that is exciting.”

Aaron Larson, associate editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine)

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