How can California accelerate the path to 100 percent renewable power and save billions of dollars in the process? On May 5, Wärtsilä hosted a webinar, “Advancing California’s Faster, Cheaper Path to 100% Renewable Power,” where energy experts presented new findings from an updated study, “Path to 100% Renewables for California,” and addressed policy recommendations about the best path forward for the state.

This webinar was a continuation to a conversation that started with Wärtsilä’s March webinar, “California’s Faster, Cheaper Path to 100% Clean Power”. This webinar series about the Path to 100% initiative is an effort to build a global community of experts who support moving toward 100 percent renewable energy innovatively, responsibly and through ongoing collaboration.

Panelists on the May 5th webinar included Joe Ferrari, General Manager of Utility Market Development at Wärtsilä North America; Karl Meeusen, Senior Advisor, Infrastructure & Regulatory Policy at California Independent System Operator; and Jan Smutny-Jones, CEO of Independent Energy Producers Association. 

Ferrari presented updated modeling scenarios and actionable steps California can take in order to follow the “Optimal Path” toward 100 percent renewable energy, outlined in the study. He emphasized the Optimal Path is the “best way to reach 100 percent clean energy for California” and power-to-gas technology (methane or hydrogen) is the key ingredient of an optimal, clean power system.

“The [Optimal Path] offers a faster, more complete decarbonization, greater efficiency in the use of land for solar, wind and battery storage and very competitive rates for ratepayers relative to any existing plans,” Ferrari explained. 

Ferrari discussed three specific policy recommendations for California, which include:

  • California recognizes thermal plants running on renewable fuels as renewable generation and net-zero-carbon generation for the purposes of meeting clean electricity mandates.
  • California retires one-through-cooling (OTC) power plants by 2023
  • California allows for the replacement of legacy thermal capacity with optimal proportions of renewable, lithium-ion and other forms of traditional energy storage, as well as strategic amounts of fast-start, flexible thermal capacity. 

Following Ferrari’s presentation, Smutny-Jones spoke about California’s progress and challenges in meeting its 2030 and 2045 targets. He emphasized the state has made significant progress in reducing its carbon profile through large-scale investment in renewable resources. 

“But we have a long way to go to meet our 2045 goals,” he continued. “The big challenge is meeting those climate goals of 100 percent clean energy while maintaining a high level of reliability in a cost-effective manner.”

Meeusen spoke about future challenges for the state as the California Independent System Operator (ISO) ventures into the integrated resource planning process once again.

“We continue to look forward to 2030 and 2045 as critical thresholds to make sure what we have and what we are developing in the future is a fleet that is diverse and reliable,” Meeusen said. “Right now, what is most important for California’s future is to have a broad view of the true options that are in front of us and the ability to think creatively.”

Missed the webinar? Watch the recording here. Want to learn more about the study’s updated modeling and results? Download the updated whitepaper.