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California’s All-Renewable Moment Shows the Future of the Power Grid

Solar, wind and other renewables briefly met nearly 100% of the state’s electricity needs. But running a clean grid 24/7 is more complex than supply and demand. 

First Solar photovoltaic panels at the Desert Stateline Solar Facility, a utility-scale photovoltaic power station, in the Mojave Desert in San Bernardino County, California, Feb. 19, 2022. 

First Solar photovoltaic panels at the Desert Stateline Solar Facility, a utility-scale photovoltaic power station, in the Mojave Desert in San Bernardino County, California, Feb. 19, 2022. 

Photographer: Bing Guan/Bloomberg

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On the last day of April, California hit a milestone: For a brief spell during a sunny Saturday afternoon, renewable sources met 99.87% of electricity demand. Power systems outside the U.S. have reached this target before (Denmark with wind power and South Australia with solar alone last year). But California’s main grid, which serves 80% of the state, is far bigger than those examples.