For three hours on March 11, solar power met roughly half of all electricity demand across a big swath of California, according to a new estimate from the federal government.
Even for a state used to setting renewable power records, it was a milestone. And while temporary, it will doubtless happen again as the state advances toward its goal of getting half of all its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
The estimate came from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the statistics branch of the Department of Energy. The administration used data from the California Independent System Operator, which manages the electricity grid across 80 percent of the state and part of Nevada.
Between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on March 11, almost 40 percent of the electricity flowing across the ISO grid came from large-scale solar power plants, a record. California has enough big solar facilities to generate up to 9.8 gigawatts of electricity, nearly the output of 10 nuclear reactors.