Reaching Carbon Reduction Goals will Increase Loads on Network
- Jan 17, 2022 3:46 pm GMT
Many countries, including the USA, have ambitious targets for greenhouse gas reductions. The Biden administration has set a goal to reduce economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 50-52% by 2030, in a transition to a carbon-neutral economy in the year 2050. That will require moving a great deal of transportation to electric vehicles and electrifying buildings and industrial processes which currently utilize fossil fuels.
This will need a total transformation of the electric sector and will involve a large expansion of the power grid. Load management in these challenging circumstances will be increasingly important, according to the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), a nonprofit research organization. About 20% of end-use energy consumption in the United States today is electricity, but that could rise to 60% by 2050 as the country moves towards a carbon-neutral economy, according to EPRI's analysis. This is a huge increase in dependence on electric power, requiring better energy planning and modelling and collaborative innovation across the industry, and supportive policies and regulations from authorities.
With a much larger grid, increased loads will become the norm, and there will be significant risks to manage, such as outages and cyber security attacks. Power outages caused by hazardous weather in Texas, California, and the Southwest region show that risk assessments must be reconfigured to account for the climate crisis.
To meet the 2030 target, EPRI sees electricity's share of end-use energy consumption rising from 20% to 33%. Projecting out to 2050, that could rise to 40-60%.
To achieve a 50% greenhouse gas reduction, EPRI has projected load increases of 16-23% by 2030, according to Thomas Wilson, a principal technical executive in the energy systems and climate analysis group at EPRI. This group projects more than 500 GW of new power capacity will be built by 2030 — though not all of that is needed for demand growth. Some will go to replacing generation currently provided by coal, natural gas, and other fossil fuels.
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