At Spark Club’s first 2019 event, Danny Kennedy from California Clean Energy Fund laid down the law.
To all the naysayers and vested interests in fossil fuels, he says: 100% renewable is so much more than possible. And it’s an absolute must.
As a state with the same population size as the whole of Australia and a tech hub fit for innovation heaven (think: Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook), California needs energy. And this need isn’t going anywhere.
Hence the signing of the historic SB100 bill in late 2018 by Governor Jerry Brown. The bill sets an official deadline for the state to move to 100% zero-carbon electricity.
SB100 will accelerate the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) to 50% by 2026 and 60% by 2030. The next 40% must come from zero-carbon sources of electricity by 2045.
The RPS target has jumped from 20% by 2010 to 33% by 2020 (under the Schwarzenegger Government), to 50% under Brown in 2015.
The bar continues to rise, and the talk is now officially reinforced by law.
But, 60% renewable by 2030 and 100% carbon-free by 2045… is California dreaming?
According to Danny, California isn’t dreaming. It’s waking up from a nightmare. Here’s why.
When Disaster Strikes
A series of unfortunate events have unfolded in California in the past decade – all the result of having inadequate means to cope with their demand and climate.
From the tragic gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno which caused eight civilian deaths in 2010, to the horrific fires that tore through the entire state in 2018, California has felt its impact first-hand.
71% of Californians are keen to bid farewell to fossil fuels. The SB100 bill, as its proponents are quick to say, is simply a response to what the people of California want and need.
The message sent by California has been heard across the US. Other states such as New York and New Jersey both followed with similar mandates back in 2015. Furthermore, Hawaii also has a 100% target (though standard RPS), and Vermont is aiming for 75% renewable by 2032.
What Australia Can Learn
The major setback for Australia, as Danny points out, is lack of government support; linked inextricably to Australia’s reliance on coal and fossil fuels.
However, Danny insists that the argument against renewables really has no leg to stand on.
Renewable energy plans not only attract disruptive and innovative projects, but they also bring together the best minds to make them happen.
Qualified professionals comprise the Renewable Energy & Environment industries in Australia. Furthermore, we have the capacity to bring skilled overseas talent to further strengthen our workforce.
The creation of new jobs also presents a huge win for all. In the United States, solar employs more people than oil, coal, and gas combined.
Finally, no, the power will not go out if we move away from fossil fuels.
On the contrary, to provide energy to our rapidly growing population, long-term (long-term being the keyword here) affordable and sustainable energy sources and adequate storage methods are truly indispensable for Australia.
Igniting the Conversation
What we see at Spark Club is that the bright minds and the revolutionary projects are here. The only thing missing is the politico-economic ideology and institutional power to ultimately mobilise and effect this change.
Got a renewable energy project and need support from a partner with a global presence and local expertise? Top talent awaits your great idea… get in touch with our industry expert, Andrea Sanz Rodriguez.
And be sure to stay tuned as the discussion unfolds by following Spark Club on LinkedIn!