PublicationJournal Article Deep carbon reductions in California require electrification and integration across economic sectors

December 9, 2013
Publication Type:
Journal Article

Meet­ing a green­house gas (GHG) reduc­tion tar­get of 80% below 1990 lev­els in the year 2050 requires detailed long-​​term plan­ning due to com­plex­ity, iner­tia, and path depen­dency in the energy sys­tem. A detailed inves­ti­ga­tion of sup­ply and demand alter­na­tives is con­ducted to assess require­ments for future Cal­i­for­nia energy sys­tems that can meet the 2050 GHG tar­get. Two com­po­nents are devel­oped here that build novel ana­lytic capac­ity and extend pre­vi­ous stud­ies: (1) detailed bottom-​​up pro­jec­tions of energy demand across the build­ing, indus­try and trans­porta­tion sec­tors; and (2) a high-​​resolution vari­able renew­able resource capac­ity plan­ning model (SWITCH) that min­i­mizes the cost of elec­tric­ity while meet­ing GHG pol­icy goals in the 2050 time­frame. Mul­ti­ple path­ways exist to a low-​​GHG future, all involv­ing increased effi­ciency, elec­tri­fi­ca­tion, and a dra­matic shift from fos­sil fuels to low-​​GHG energy. The elec­tric­ity sys­tem is found to have a diverse, cost-​​effective set of options that meet aggres­sive GHG reduc­tion tar­gets. This con­clu­sion holds even with increased demand from trans­porta­tion and heat­ing, but the opti­mal lev­els of wind and solar deploy­ment depend on the tem­po­ral char­ac­ter­is­tics of the result­ing load pro­file. Long-​​term pol­icy sup­port is found to be a key miss­ing ele­ment for the suc­cess­ful attain­ment of the 2050 GHG tar­get in California.

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