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What will it take to reach California's 'carbon-free' goal?

The world is now abuzz in the wake of Gov. Jerry Brown's signing of a law that sets California on a track to achieve the goal of being a fossil fuel-free state by 2045. Since taking that action, there have been calls from some quarters that China now needs to step up its game in this area. What reaction that will receive is impossible to gauge, especially in the current political and economic environment.

In putting pen to the page earlier this month, Brown acknowledged that reaching the ambitious goal will not be easy, or immediate. But he says it's something that "must be done." The question many now ask is whether the goal is reachable? Not surprisingly, opinions vary widely.

One voice on the optimistic side comes from the U.S. Solar Energy Industries Association. That organization's president notes that California is already proving the economic and environmental benefits of focusing on boosting energy production through renewable means, and she predicts benefits to "grow exponentially with the enactment of SB 100."

Other SEIA proponents note that the bill uses the term "carbon-free" to frame the context of the long-range objective, rather than saying "renewable." They say that represents awareness that success is going to require moving into what is acknowledged to be "uncharted territory" in terms of how energy from myriad generation sources are networked, managed and transmitted. One SEIA official says the carbon-free term opens the door to innovators to advance new technologies for such things as energy storage.

Of course, developing new ideas is only one step in the process. Procuring the intellectual property rights on new ideas and defending them to optimal financial benefit is critical for any business seeking to flourish in this uncharted territory. Working with experienced IP attorneys will help.

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