Policy Context - Renewable Energy Research

Through research and exploration, the state has and can continue to foster cutting edge ideas while meeting the challenges associated with effectively targeting and investing limited research funds to help California meet policy goals. The objective of the research is to encourage innovation in promising renewable energy technologies and approaches to help deploy these technologies at the utility, community, and building scales. With targeted investment strategies, California can continue to be a long term global leader in energy research. The primary policy drivers for renewable energy research program are as follows:

Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS)

In 2011, Senate Bill X1 2 was passed into law, which raises California's renewable energy generation goals to 33 percent by 2020 and expand the mandate to include publicly-owned utilities. For an update on California's progress toward meeting the RPS goals, the California Energy Almanac provides "fast facts" about California's energy sources and electricity generated from renewables.

Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR)

The California Energy Commission adopts an Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR) every two years and an update every other year, recommending strategies to meet the state's energy needs and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions as required by Senate Bill 1389 (Bowen, Statutes of 2002, Chapter 568). The IEPR assesses and forecasts all aspects of energy industry supply, production, transportation, delivery and distribution, demand, and prices. The Energy Commission uses these assessments and forecasts to develop energy policies that:

  • Conserve resources.
  • Protect the environment.
  • Ensure energy reliability.
  • Enhance the state's economy.
  • Protect public health and safety.

Bioenergy Action Plan

In 2006, an interagency Bioenergy Working Group was formed to establish targets for the use and production of biofuels and biopower and help to advance biomass programs in California. The Interagency Bioenergy Working Group assembled the Bioenergy Action Plan that provides specific actions and timelines that agencies agreed to take to carry out the effort.

Global Warming Solutions Act

Assembly Bill 32 (http://www.arb.ca.gov/cc/ab32/ab32.htm), the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (Núñez, Chapter 488, Statutes of 2006), requires in law a reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The California Air Resources Board (ARB), the lead agency for implementing AB 32, has developed a Scoping Plan outlining the State's strategy to achieve the 2020 greenhouse gas emissions limit. This Scoping Plan, developed by ARB in coordination with the Climate Action Team (CAT), proposes a comprehensive set of actions designed to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions in California, improve our environment, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, diversify our energy sources, save energy, create new jobs, and enhance public health. Actions to be taken in the renewable sector to achieve these objectives include:

  • 4000 additional megawatts of Combined Heat and Power Capacity by 2020
  • An increase in statewide renewable energy generation to 33% by 2020