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Study finds Los Angeles can have 98% clean, reliable electricity generation by 2030

March 25, 2021

Los Angeles Times:

Los Angeles is one of the last places in California still burning coal for electricity — and if all goes according to plan, it could become one of the country’s first major cities to nearly eliminate fossil fuels from its power supply.

In a first-of-its-kind study commissioned by the city and released Wednesday, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory concluded L.A. is capable of achieving 98% clean energy within the next decade and 100% by 2035, meeting one of President Biden’s most ambitious climate goals. And it can do so without causing blackouts or disrupting the economy, the federal research lab found, undercutting two of the most common arguments used by opponents of climate action.

The path forward for the next decade is clear, NREL found: Build solar farms, wind turbines and batteries as fast as possible. Get solar panels on rooftops, electric cars in garages and electric heat pumps in homes. And invest in energy efficiency and “demand response” programs that pay people to use electricity during times of day when solar and wind power are plentiful.

The benefits would be immense: not only helping to counteract the climate crisis, but also slashing deadly air pollution from cars, trucks, power plants and gas furnaces, much of it concentrated in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.

Crucially, all the paths to 100% clean energy studied by NREL would be capable of keeping the lights on every hour of the year, the researchers say — even on the hottest summer and coldest winter days, even when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow for days at a time, and even when a wildfire takes down a major transmission line.

That’s a key point after recent weather extremes that highlighted the importance of a reliable power grid, including brief rolling blackouts in California during a heat wave last summer and multi-day outages in Texas during last month’s cold snap.

The possibility of reaching 100% clean energy by 2035 is one of several options the researchers studied in detail. But however fast or aggressively officials choose to act, getting to 100% climate-friendly power “will not affect the City of L.A. economy, on net, in any meaningful manner,” especially with the costs spread out over 25 years, NREL concluded.

[Sammy Roth]

More: Los Angeles now has a road map for 100% renewable energy

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