Sierra Club California Urges Increasing Solar PV 30 Times with FITs

By Paul Gipe


Sierra Club California has called for increasing the role of solar PV in the state more than 30 times that of today through a system of feed-in tariffs.

The environmental group’s recommendation that the state develop 30 billion kilowatt-hours (30 TWh) of distributed generation, mostly with solar photovoltaics (PV), is contained in a formal filing with California’s Air Resources Board on how the state can meet 33% of its electricity supply in 2020 with renewable energy as required in AB 32. The 15-page filing explains in detail how the environmental group, California’s largest, believes the state can meet its renewable energy targets on schedule and at a reasonable cost.

Solar PV generated about 1 TWh or 1/3 of one percent of the state’s electricity in 2009. The California Solar Initiative is limited to adding only 3,000 MW of solar PV capacity. Under California conditions, the CSI will contribute only 6 TWh per year or about 2% of supply.

The state has consistently failed to meet its Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) since the RPS was implemented in the first part of the decade according to the California Energy Commission.

California will need more than 100 TWh from renewable sources by 2020 to meet its obligations under AB 32. The state currently generates 38 TWh from all renewable sources.

Sierra Club California argues that distributed solar PV could meet from 50% to 75% of the need for new renewable energy capacity by using well-crafted feed-in tariffs. Such tariffs would


  • Be based on the cost of generation plus a reasonable profit,
  • Be differentiated by technology and size,
  • Entail long-term contracts of 20 to 25 years, and
  • Include simple, must take contracts.

Feed-in tariffs, says Sierra Club California, “have demonstrated that they successfully bring renewables on-line quickly, in volume, and at a lower-cost” than other procurement policies.

Sierra Club California Comments to CARB March 15, 2010