A new study by the U.S. Department of Energy reports that Los Angeles is on its way toward meeting its goal of sourcing all of its energy from completely renewable sources within the next 25 years.
(CN) — Los Angeles may be on track to reach its ambitious and unprecedented goal of creating a power supply of 100% renewable electricity by 2045 and possibly sooner.
The largest city in California and second largest in the nation, Los Angeles has maintained a well-earned reputation for being one of the world’s economic juggernauts. Boasting a population of nearly four million people and commanding the third largest city-based GDP in the world, LA is a critical hub of economic activity that hosts a multitude of industries.
But keeping the gears of this sprawling metropolis moving has always come with a hefty price tag. Los Angeles has one of the most expansive city power grids in the world, with the city’s Department of Water and Power currently functioning as the largest municipal utility in the entire U.S. The city relies on over 10,000 miles of energy distribution lines and draws on a myriad of energy sources.
Faced with such a steep energy demand, the city’s leaders in recent years have laid out a series of goals that bend toward the same end: creating a power supply that can operate off 100% renewable sources without sacrificing energy stability.
Now, new research says that this goal is not only achievable but it may even come to fruition in the next few decades.
In a study published Wednesday by the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which previously partnered with the city to help leaders determine the best paths toward a completely renewable energy grid, researchers reveal that LA’s green energy goals are feasible, provided that the city maintains its commitment towards advancing renewable energy.
The study, dubbed the LA100: the Los Angeles 100% Renewable Energy Study, says experts came to this conclusion after undergoing a rigorous and detailed evaluation of LA’s energy realities to determine what the future will likely hold for the City of Angels. Researchers designed a number of simulations to gauge how a renewable energy grid could be achieved under different variables, including how the city’s energy demand is likely to change as more types of transportation rely on electricity, how new power plants or other energy suppliers influence energy goals and how the city’s grid could hold up under events of extreme pressure that are all too common in the area, like heat waves and wildfires.
According to the team’s data, the math for creating a renewable power grid under the scenarios largely holds up. While the details of each scenario vary widely, such as having some scenarios include natural gas generation, biofuels and upgrades to nuclear transmission while others don’t, the data makes it clear that a possible future for a renewable LA power supply is certainly in the cards by 2045, and possibly even a decade sooner depending on the scenario.
Jaquelin Cochran, manager of NREL’s grid systems analysis group and principal investigator of the study, said that these scenarios are not meant to give city leaders an exactly predicted look into LA’s future, but instead gives the city more detailed insight as to how it can reach its energy goals.
“It’s important to remember that scenarios are not prescriptions or predictions — LADWP will not choose one scenario as its marching orders,” Cochran said with the release of the study. “Instead, the scenarios help illuminate how making different decisions could impact LA’s future in a variety of ways — from costs, to environmental concerns, to the local economy.”
The study reports that while these possible futures for the city will likely create an entirely new energy landscape, including new growth in solar energy and increased electricity demands, Los Angeles residents will not have their daily lifestyles interrupted. Researchers report that new investments in clean energy, on top of creating thousands of clean energy jobs each year, are not likely to have any notable negative influence on the city’s complex economy.
Researchers say this evaluation does not have to apply only to Los Angeles. The study reports that the pathways laid out in the new study could provide a blueprint to other cities around the world on how to fundamentally transform an energy grid into a greener, carbon-free entity and experts are hopeful that other city leaders will one day look to follow in LA’s footsteps.