Start watching
Tending Nature poster 2021

Tending Nature

Start watching

Southland Sessions

Start watching

Earth Focus

Start watching

Reporter Roundup

Start watching

City Rising

Start watching

Lost LA

Start watching
Your donation supports our high-quality, inspiring and commercial-free programming.
Support Icon
Learn about the many ways to support KCET.
Support Icon
Contact our Leadership, Advancement and Special Events teams.

Another Solar Record Set, Renewables Power Nearly Quarter of California

California solar on a cloudy day | Photo: Steve Rider/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Yet another milestone in California's quest to go solar: the state's industrial-sized solar power producers pumped more than 4,500 megawatts into the grid around noon on Monday.

According to the California Independent System Operator (CaISO), the agency that runs the grid serving most of California, utility-scale solar power plants set a new record of 4,566 megawatts of output at 12:03 p.m. on May 19.

Around 575 megawatts of that noontime peak came from solar thermal plants, which use the sun's energy to generate steam which in turn turns turbines. The remainder came from photovoltaic panels, which convert sunlight directly into electricity.

As always when we report on utility-scale solar peaks reported by CaISO, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, the actual amount of solar power generated in the state and fed into the grid was significantly larger Monday. CaISO measures only those large energy generators that are hooked up to the grid without a consumer's electric meter in between them. That means that none of the residential or commercial rooftop solar in the state counts toward that 4,566-megawatt total.

According to the California Solar Statistics website, there were at least 2,050 megawatts of rooftop solar capacity installed in California as of May 14, and that figure omits a significant amount of California solar. There are at least 216 megawatts of solar in Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Jose alone not reflected in the California Solar Statistics' site's totals.

Secondly, even with the growing output of California solar, the state still lags well behind more forward-looking places like Germany, which by July 2012 had 29,700 megawatts of solar panels installed.

Caveats aside, Monday was a banner day for California renewables in more ways than just setting a heavily qualified solar output record: Renewables met almost a quarter of the state's power demand for the day. Monday's total power output from solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, and small hydro amounted to 149,895 megawatt-hours, which was around 24 percent of the state's total 24-hour demand of 627,144 megawatt-hours.

149,895 megawatt-hours worth of renewable energy is 149,895 megawatt-hours of power we didn't need to generate by burning natural gas, the conventional fuel of choice in California. Generating that much power in a natural gas fired plant would have released about 83,000 metric tons of CO2 into the already over-CO2ed atmosphere.

So there's that.

Support Provided By
Support Provided By
Read More
un mazo de juez de madera

Justicia retrasada: tribunales abrumados por el atraso de la pandemia

Desde la manutención de los hijos hasta el fraude de seguros, los casos judiciales se retrasan en todo California. Solo la mitad de los casos civiles y penales se resolvieron el verano pasado en comparación con las cifras anteriores a la pandemia. “La justicia no se ha cerrado. La justicia se ha ralentizado”, según un grupo de abogados.
A gavel on a table

Justice Delayed: Courts Overwhelmed by Pandemic Backlog

From child support to insurance fraud, court cases are delayed throughout California. Only half as many civil and criminal cases were resolved last summer compared with pre-pandemic numbers. “Justice has not shut down. Justice has slowed down,” according to an attorneys’ group.
People pull up in their vehicles for Covid-19 vaccines in the parking lot of The Forum in Inglewood, California on January 19, 2021. | FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

L.A. County Expands COVID Vaccines to Residents 65 And Older

L.A. County began scheduling COVID-19 vaccination appointments for those aged 65 and older today, but limited supplies and uncertainty about future allocations has left the inoculation effort shrouded in doubt.