Bay Area Smart Energy 2020

Date: March 1, 2012

Bay Area Smart Energy 2020 – At a Glance

“Audaciously ambitious,” Forbes Magazine

Our report “Bay Area Smart Energy 2020” (BASE 2020) shows how the San Francisco Bay Area can move to a locally-based, clean energy economy and leave fossil fuels behind.

Getting to Zero Net Energy Buildings
The BASE 2020 plan calls for at least 25% of Bay Area buildings to be “zero net energy.” These buildings create at least as much energy as they use, meaning there is no energy bill, and payment to the home or business for energy sold back to the utility.

These four strategies are among those that will create zero net energy buildings:

  1. Solar Photovoltaics: Nearly 4,000 MW of solar energy is installed on rooftops, over parking lots and in Bay Area brownfields. Solar power is most effective on days of peak energy usage, which are the hottest, sunniest days. This will reduce usage of natural gas peaking power plants.
  2. Energy Efficiency: Energy usage is reduced by 25 to 30 percent in Bay Area buildings and in agricultural operations. BASE 2020 recommends independent oversight over efficiency programs in the PG&E service territory.
  3. Air Conditioning: Incentives will encourage upgrades of air conditioning, leading to a fifty percent reduction in energy usage.
  4. Energy Storage: BASE 2020 calls for 200 MW of energy storage in the Bay Area to be located within buildings or as community energy storage projects.

Updating the Grid
In addition, BASE 2020 calls for these upgrades to the Bay Area power grid:

  1. Combined Heat and Power: This is a highly efficient technology that uses a heat engine to simultaneously generate heat and electricity. Combined heat and power facilities are commonly sited at college campuses and hospitals. They can run around the clock, and can be an effective way to “smooth out” the intermittency of renewable power. BASE 2020 proposes 840 MW of new combined heat and power.
  2. Geothermal: Sonoma County currently generates power from this power source, which harnesses underground sources of heat to create electricity. BASE 2020 recommends upgrading geothermal operations at The Geysers in Sonoma County, which would add 300 megawatts of capacity.
  3. Wind: The BASE 2020 plan also includes 300 MW of new wind at the Solano wind complex. Unlike the nearby Altamont Pass, Solano has a relatively low bird death rate, and is not as controversial. BASE 2020 also calls for a 400 MW battery at the Solano wind complex to smooth out the intermittent wind power.

There are several options for financing these projects which need to be adopted in the Bay Area. These include “clean energy payments,” where the utility pays the building owner for excess power generated; the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program, where projects are paid for as part of a property tax assessment; and Community Choice Aggregation, which allows communities to market and sell energy to their residents independently of PG&E.

View the report summary

View the full report