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 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 attached to a national grid that can operate independently from a national grid. On a smaller basis, a person’s home can also be a microgrid with solar and batteries.
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, for 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.
There is another bill that could boost the micro-grids’ development and that would be the SB100. The Vice President, external affairs, of Advanced Energy Economy, Steve Chadima has said that “SB100 will impact micro grids 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.
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 and gives them incentives 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.”
Microgrids can be further commercialized, and more grants and education will be 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.”