The Pathway to 2050 Is A Road Paved With Renewables
Looking into the state’s distant and recent past may yield a clue or two about California’s energy future.
That was a focus of California Energy Commissioner David Hochschild during his closing speech at Pathway to 2050, an advanced energy conference held Aug. 10 in Sacramento.
This annual gathering of movers and shakers in the renewable and advanced energy world had topics ranging from decarbonizing transportation to scaling energy capital and energy storage.
In Hochschild’s estimation, the state has come a long way in a short amount of time with renewable energy.
“Critics said where we are today with renewables was not possible five or 10 years ago,” said Hochschild. “We were at 12 percent of renewables in 2008 and now we’re at 26 percent.”
A decade ago, some prevalent notions about renewable energy included that using more renewable energy would hurt the economy, raise unemployment and cause rolling blackouts.
“None of the calamities predicted have come to pass,” Hochschild said.
In some cases, the opposite has happened.
“Since about 2001, the state’s GDP has grown 28 percent and emissions have fallen 8 percent,” Hochschild said.
He cited Tesla as an example of the kind of growth happening - where technology is advancing at a fast clip along with the public’s adoption of that technology.
The 5.4 million-square-foot Tesla electric vehicle manufacturing plant in Fremont is the largest manufacturing operation in California. General Motors and Toyota once jointly operated the plant, which produced 50,000 Tesla cars in 2015.
“Tesla now employs more people at this plant than GM did,” Hochschild said.
That growth has happened rapidly. It took GM over 100 years to become a $50 billion company. It has taken Tesla only 13 years to reach the $34 billion mark, he said.
“As a result of our bold policies, from cap and trade to our Renewables Portfolio Standard, we now have more clean tech venture capital coming into California than all of Europe and China combined,” said Hochschild.