October 19, 2023

Advancing Energy Storage and Non-carbon Solutions

By Bob Marra

The 2023 California Economic Summit came to the Coachella Valley on Oct. 11-13, bringing together leaders from across the state and they had a lot to say about what they think will be needed to meet California’s ambitious energy and climate change goals. And they say our future depends on the decisions we make today.

The Energy Panel: Francisco J. Leon is President and Chief Executive Officer of California Resources Corporation (CRC), an independent energy and carbon management company committed to energy transition; Erik Bartsch, President & CEO of Aera Energy; Lars Carlstrom, Founder & CEO of Statevolt; and Tim Kelley, President & CEO Imperial Valley Economic Partnership.

The challenge: California still imports 30% of its total electricity on average. Thirty percent is a lot. We have a lot more to do on battery storage and other types of storage to meet those goals.

The opportunity: new solar, wind, storage, and manufacturing options are coming online to address the current over-dependence on oil and gas. Locally, Lithium Valley opens up the entire supply chain of lithium, from extraction to purification and conversion. The goal is to attract manufacturers who can use the lithium to produce batteries.

According to the most recent data from the California Energy Commission (2022), on average, natural gas still produces 47% of electricity in the state, followed by solar at 20%, nuclear at 9%, large hydro at 9%, wind at 7%, and the rest spread out with geothermal.

This is a very diverse mix, bearing in mind that it fluctuates throughout the day – at peak 60, 70, 80, and sometimes 90% is wind and solar by itself. Nuclear generally runs base load. With the extension of the Diablo Canyon plant passed by the legislature and signed by the governor, which is on its way to be extended another five years through 2030, California is secured with a nice base load through 2030.

Offshore wind is an exciting new option coming online. There are six gigawatts planned, already leased out – not built yet – but on its way. There are also a couple of renewable resources with storage capacity to ensure that at nighttime the state is not totally reliant on natural gas, nuclear, hydro, and other types of energy sources, because that electricity has been consumed during the day. That is the energy we export today when we overproduce solar – energy that goes out of state to other states – and then we essentially buy it back from other states at nighttime – when those assets are diminished towards zero.

Industry is working with communities and partners to address questions and concerns about new technologies in the energy sector. There is a need for stability in permitting and regulatory regimes to encourage investment and accelerate the transition to low-carbon technologies. It will take regulatory stability to attract investor confidence and capital for job creation and the energy transition.


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