Renewable Energy & Storage

Solar and Energy Storage Demand

Improved less than 1 percent from
2016 to 2017

How are we doing?

Renewable energy and storage received a thumbs-up because thousands of new solar PV systems were installed in 2017 (although this represented a decrease in new installations compared to 2016). Furthermore, the rate of energy storage demand, a technology that is increasingly paired with solar to maximize its usefulness, is growing based on a 166% increase in energy storage applications to the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP). Renewable energy as a percentage of San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) sales was 43% in 2016, exceeding the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) mandate of 33% by 2020. Utility-scale solar and wind energy make up most of SDG&E’s renewable energy mix. See more information.

Although thousands of new PV systems were installed in 2017, new solar installations and added solar capacity decreased from 2016 to 2017 by 36%. The year-to-year growth rate decreased due to perceived changes in the value proposition of solar.

Data Source: California Distributed Generation Statistics, Distributed Generation Interconnection Program Data, 2018

The data shows energy storage projects that submitted incentive applications through the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) in SDG&E’s service territory. The data shows a large increase in demand for storage projects in 2017, with total rated capacity exceeding 21 MW. The jump in projects are a result of increases in residential solar plus storage projects, time of use rates, decreasing system costs, as well as significant program modifications to the SGIP.

Data Source: California Distributed Generation Statistics, Self-Generation Incentive Program Data, 2018

Why is it important?

  • San Diego ranked #1 in Solar Installations. In 2016, San Diego edged out Los Angeles, the previous leader, to become the nation’s frontrunner in total installed solar PV capacity.
  • Renewable energy is important in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality. When coupled with energy storage, renewable sources provide a continuous energy supply, increasing system reliability and cost-effectiveness.
  • Distributed generation, small-scale renewable technologies that produce electricity close to the end user, makes the region more resilient to power outages.
  • The cost per watt for distributed solar systems with less than 10-kW capacity dropped from approximately $4.91 in 2016 to $4.39 in 2017 in the SDG&E territory. See more solar data.

SDG&E is on track to meet the state’s mandated renewable portfolio standard (RPS) goal to reach 50% renewables by 2030, primarily through large-scale utility solar projects. Of the major investor-owned utilities in California, SDG&E currently has the highest percentage of renewable energy (43% of sales) in its electricity portfolio and has no coal contracts. Distributed energy resources such as private rooftop solar and localized microgrid projects do not count as renewables in the state’s RPS.

Data Source: CPUC 2016 RPS Compliance Report

SDG&E’s renewable energy mix is based on large-scale utility solar and wind energy with a small portion that includes hydro, landfill gas and biomass.

Data Source: SDG&E 2016 Power Content Label

  Idea for Change

Although San Diego exceeds all other cities nationwide in solar electric capacity, it’s falling short in support of community solar, a distributed energy business model that allows many consumers to share one generating system. Community solar is great opportunity for customers who are interested in solar but may not have the space or resources necessary to install it. Program participants either contribute to part of the system’s upfront installation costs or pay a rate that finances their portion of the power produced. Existing and new housing and building projects in the region should consider community solar as a tool to promote social and environmental equity and increase local clean energy resources to help meet local, regional and statewide energy goals.

  Bright Spot

A prototype plan for transforming disadvantaged communities in California into advanced energy communities with near-zero net energy (ZNE) homes and buildings is under development in Encanto in southeastern San Diego. The project, funded by $1.5 million from the California Energy Commission, is designed to build the case for integrated distributed energy resources at the community scale and develop tools for government agencies, developers, nonprofits and citizens to achieve their energy goals. Spearheaded by Groundwork San Diego, the Chollas Ecovillage Project will pilot innovative planning, permitting and financing approaches to achieve deployment of energy efficiency, onsite renewable energy generation, electrical demand response and electric vehicles. Creating this model plan is intended to provide a roadmap for cities and counties and promote increased investments in low-income communities.

  What are we measuring?

We measure renewable energy by tracking the number and capacity of new solar installations and the increase in incentivized energy storage projects in the SDG&E service territory. We also track the historical trend of renewable energy as a percentage of SDG&E sales and the distribution of renewable energy procurement by type.  Learn more about the data.