GENERIC ROAD MAP TO DECARBONIZE ENERGY SYSTEMS
- Mar 15, 2021 10:12 am GMTMar 13, 2021 12:01 am GMT
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GENERIC ROAD MAP TO DECARBONIZE ENERGY SYSTEMS
- Over the past two decades, increased understanding of the severity of impending climate change has coincided with rapid development of non-emitting energy technologies, including significant reductions in their costs. As a result, many nations, states, cities, and companies have recently indicated goals and are developing plans to transition to an energy system that emits zero net anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHGs), usually by 2050. This timetable would allow the transition to take advantage of the natural turnover of long-lived capital stock (i.e., the 30-year lifetime of a gas power plant) and is consistent, if adopted globally, with limiting the global temperature increase to substantially less than 2 degrees Celsius.
Emissions Reduction in Electricity Generation
- For USA, EIA 2020 statistics show that electric power generation has been the real workhorse of emissions reductions, with carbon dioxide emissions by a third from 2005 to 2019.
This decrease resulted from the replacement of the oldest, least-efficient coal plants with natural gas plants, and renewable energy, primarily variable generation from wind (up 5.5 %) and solar (up 2 %).
Rapid declines in power sector emissions have been facilitated by the precipitous declines in the cost of new solar photovoltaics (PVs; 89 % cheaper since 2009) and new wind facilities (70 % 2009).
Based on that, one can deduce a generic road map to decarbonize the energy system.
Deep Decarbonization of Electricity Sector
It has to increase overall transmission capacity (as measured in GW-miles) by:
a) Strengthen and expand long-distance electricity transmission by identifying corridors needed to support wind and solar deployment.
b) Build out the electric transmission and distribution infrastructure needed to accommodate flows from and access to these commercially ready new zero-carbon resources.
It has to strengthen distribution-system planning, investment, and operations to allow for greater use of flexible demand and distributed energy resources for system needs, improve asset utilization in the distribution network, and efficiently accommodate up to increase in peak electricity demand from EVs, heat pumps, and other new loads during the next decade.
It has to expand automation and controls across electricity distribution networks and end-use devices by increasing the fraction of electricity meters with advanced two-way communications capabilities. Smart grid expansion will enable greater demand response of EV charging, space and water heating loads, and cooling energy storage for air conditioning buildings. It will also allow the use of a variety of smart home and business technologies that can increase energy efficiency while reducing consumer costs.
Emissions from End-use Sectors
- Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) Emissions from end-use sectors have not declined as rapidly, and in some cases have even increased. The story has been remarkably consistent: increased activity in each sector has been partially offset by moderate levels of efficiency improvements, resulting in only incremental changes in emissions.
In the transportation sector, growth in vehicle miles traveled has been offset by improved fuel economy.
In the industrial sector, increased economic output has been offset by a combination of more efficient industrial processes and structural changes in the economy (e.g., a shift away from energy-intensive manufacturing to the services industry).
In the buildings sector, growth in floor space has been offset by improved efficiencies of buildings and appliances.
Deep Decarbonization of Transportation Sector
Accelerating improvement in end-use efficiency to reduce total fuel and materials demand.
Substituting hydrocarbon fuels with carbon-free electricity.
Accelerate the build-out of the national electric vehicle (EV) recharging network.
Investment in vehicle connectivity and real-time control infrastructure.
Deep Decarbonization of Industry Sector
Define infrastructure requirements to deliver electricity on industrial needs (e.g., interconnections, substations, high-voltage lines, storage, and grid energy flows). Pursue these capacity improvements in collaboration with utilities and industry, again starting with clusters.
Build capability, market pull, and lower costs for hydrogen use ( non emission fuel) in iron and steel, chemistry, and refining.
Deep Decarbonization of Building Sector
Commercial and residential buildings are responsible for large portion of GHGs emissions, resulting from building construction and electricity use. Improvement in the built environment can dramatically reduce energy demand and provide measurable gains for productivity ,health, and environmental quality.
Following actions have to be consider to decrease carbon emissions in buildings sector:
Establishing national standards for building energy efficiency , instituting manufacturing and performance standards for cooling and heating equipment.
Promoting energy efficient equipment , appliances and device
Make strategic investments in building efficiency and electrification such as retrofitting existing homes and commercial buildings to improve insulation.
Electrify the built environment by solar energy, thermal energy storage,off-peak electricity storage and integrate with the grid.
Because the energy system impacts so many aspects of society, a transition to net zero would have profound implications well beyond climate and energy, including economic competitiveness, increase deployment, and improved human health. If done right, a transition to net zero might provide more and better-quality jobs, and economic benefits that exceed costs.
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 2021. Accelerating Decarbonization of the U.S. Energy System. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/2593 .