The cap-and-trade adds to the many measures that California has already taken to lessen the carbon footprint and this move will open the door to development of microgrids.
The state of California’s cap-and-trade program has been extended to 2030. Governor Jerry Brown backed the legislation and 2/3 of the State Assembly and Senate approved it. The cap-and-trade adds to the many measures that California has already taken to lessen the carbon footprint and this move will open the door to development of microgrids.
Microgrids are local groups of users of electricity sources that attach to the national grid but can still operate independently from the national grid. On a smaller basis, a person’s home can also be a microgrid with solar and batteries.
What is the Purpose of the Cap-and-Trade Program?
The cap-and-trade program currently places limits on carbon emissions and allows covered companies to release greenhouse gases. To make up for the carbon emissions, the companies offset credits or they give up emission allowances. If they fail to do this, the companies are penalized.
Cap-and-trade programs and their success open the door to microgrid use, according to Mark Feasel, vice president, electric utility segment & smart grid at Schneider Electric. One positive aspect of the cap-and-trade program is that it encourages people to work on reducing their carbon emissions. Mark Feasel has also said, “microgrids connect devices, increase automation, and ultimately have the ability to optimize energy use and help cap-and-trade program participants avoid exceeding their ‘cap’ level.”
What is California’s Current RPS?
Currently the RPS (renewable portfolio standard) for California requires that 50 percent of electricity comes from renewable energy by 2030. That number could change with the increased usage of microgrids to 50 percent by 2026 and 60 percent by 2030. This is a substantial increase and in less time.
The SB100 is calling for a 100 percent carbon-free grid, instead of increasing renewable energy by as much. According to Chadima, rooftop solar is not included as part of the renewable portfolio standard. He also believes that microgrids, storage and demand-side resources should be included in the RPS.
More “Green” Legislation On the Horizon
There is another bill that could boost the micro-grids’ development and benefit the SB100. The Vice President, external affairs, of Advanced Energy Economy, Steve Chadima has said that “SB100 will impact microgrids the most; it pushes for a zero-carbon grid in the most effective way. That’s when storage and microgrids come into play.” He believes this will happen because the focus won’t just rest on renewable energy but also other technologies that can result in a zero-carbon grid.
Microgrids can be further commercialized with more grants and education made available, all side effects of the success of the cap-and-trade program. This will lead to an increase of storage. Alex Morris, director of policy and regulatory affairs for the California Energy Storage Alliance has stated that “over time, the rules will likely prompt more renewables, which in turn creates a need for clean ramping capacity and for helping absorb or integrate wind and solar, and that is where storage comes in.”
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