Cost-effective decarbonization of California’s power sector by 2030 with the aid of battery storage

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Abstract: The costs of solar photovoltaics (PV), wind, and battery storage have fallen by approximately 65% to 85% since 2010 and are projected to decline further in the near future—creating opportunities for aggressive power-sector decarbonization that were seldom envisioned even a few years ago. We assess the ability of large-scale PV and wind deployment in conjunction with modest amounts of battery storage to enable near-complete decarbonization of California’s power sector by 2030. Our study improves on previous analyses by accounting for the dramatic recent cost reductions and therefore assessing the possibility of more rapid decarbonization. We find that, even if renewable energy and storage costs do not decline further, a carbon-free generation share of 80% can be achieved by 2030 in California at a total system cost lower than the cost in a baseline no-additional-cleanenergy scenario. If costs decline at half the rate observed since 2010, 95% carbon-free generation is feasible at a total system cost similar to the cost in a baseline scenario. This is the first study to suggest California could cost-effectively achieve near-complete power-sector decarbonization by 2030 using existing technologies. The results also indicate potential for similar opportunities in other regions of the world. This is especially important because power-sector decarbonization could catalyze electrification-based decarbonization across other economic sectors such as transportation, buildings, and industry

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