California may build 11.5GW of almost all carbon-free resources to replace its last nuclear plant

Jeff St. John | Canary Media Link to article

Regulators have decided that adding 7.5 GW by 2026 won’t be enough after the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant closes. Can California build so much clean and reliable grid capacity in time?

California regulators have proposed adding 11.5 gigawatts of almost completely carbon-free capacity to its grid in the next five years. This ambitious target will require a massive build-out of batteries to shift solar power to cover the state’s grid peaks as natural-gas plants close and gigawatts of long-duration energy storage and dispatchable zero-carbon resources to make up for the loss of the state’s last nuclear power plant.

Friday’s proposals from the California Public Utilities Commission mark a dramatic increase from the 7.5 GW of resources by 2026 proposed earlier this year to ensure grid reliability after the closure of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant.

Clean energy groups say the expanded target will lessen the risk of relying on natural gas to cover the gap that Diablo Canyon will leave in the state’s peak electricity supply, which could increase carbon emissions in a state under mandate to reach 60 percent renewable energy by 2030 and 100 percent carbon-free energy by 2045.

“The commission has finally recognized that we’re behind on adding much-needed renewable capacity and that it needs to be diverse,” said V. John White, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies, in a Tuesday interview.

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