EPRI Study: Accelerating Electrification Will Help U.S. Meet 2030 Target While Saving Consumers Money

Posted to EPRI in the Utility Management Group
image credit: EPRI
Robert Chapman's picture
Senior Vice President, Energy Delivery & Customer Solutions , EPRI

Rob Chapman is Senior Vice President of Energy Delivery and Customer Solutions, at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). He provides executive oversight for EPRI’s broad portfolio of...

  • Member since 2004
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  • Nov 15, 2021

On Saturday, world leaders from nearly 200 countries came to an agreement at COP26—dubbed the Glasgow Climate Pact—increasing national ambitions to reduce near-term emissions. Earlier last week, a key EPRI report examined pathways and actions for reaching the United States 2030 climate change target. To summarize one of the key report findings, carbon reductions across all sectors of the economy— through cleaner energy, increased energy efficiency, and accelerated electrification—will be crucial: 

According to the report:

  • Achieving the 2030 U.S. goal means tripling the recent pace of decarbonization from 1 gigaton reduction every 15 years to one Gt every five years. While the electric sector builds on the emissions reductions it has achieved over the last 15 years, transportation, buildings, and industry accelerate their emissions reduction by increasingly adopting clean electric technologies.
  • Accelerating electrification reduces the overall cost of meeting the 2030 target as compared to more limited electrification. The total household energy bill - the combined cost of electricity, natural gas, gasoline, and other fuels - is lower for many customers with increased electrification. Electric vehicles are projected to cost significantly less to power than comparable gasoline vehicles, and households are assumed to electrify only where it makes economic sense. Importantly, the cost of energy services, which includes these energy costs and the cost of buying and maintaining energy using equipment (e.g., electric vehicles, heating, and cooling equipment), also declines. 
  • A key contributor to meeting the interim target - the U.S. electric vehicle fleet - grows exponentially. Cost parity and incentives drive consumer adoption 20 to 30 times beyond current levels, which entails grid investment to support charging needs and to support flexible charging as a grid asset. 

So, what does it all mean? The 50 percent economy-wide carbon reduction target by 2030 is achievable, but will require immediate and sustained actions by government, businesses, and individuals to triple the rate of decarbonization achieved over the past 15 years. 

The electric sector has made substantial early moves to reduce emissions, primarily driven by end-use efficiency and lower-emission generation, with natural gas and renewable-generated power replacing coal. As a result, the industry has reduced its carbon emissions by almost 40 percent since its peak in 2007 — more than double the rate of the broader economy, according to Department of Energy data. This progress enables electrification to play a significant role in meeting the U.S. target, helping to lower emissions from transportation, buildings, and industry, while reducing overall energy costs for many consumers. 

Emissions reductions in the electric power sector and, increasingly in transportation with wider adoption of light duty electric vehicles, play the largest roles in achieving the 2030 goal, but all sectors need to make progress. It will take the entire energy sector working together to help reduce emissions and reach net-zero by mid-century. 

Electrification of end-uses is a central part of the near-term strategy and will be a key aspect of achieving the longer-term goal of the net-zero energy future. I’m confident we can get there, ensuring the clean energy transition is equitable and sustainable, while keeping electricity accessible, affordable, and reliable for consumers in the U.S. and around the world.

Founded in 1972, EPRI is the world's preeminent independent, non-profit energy research and development organization, with offices around the world.
Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Nov 15, 2021

Electrification has many, many different stakeholders-- and obviously the rate and degree to which electrification occurs has an immense impact on utilities. How involved do you think utilities should be in the process around them? Can they be better prepared by helping to shepherd in those changes, or have they more often chosen to be reactionary and simply adjust based on the trends they're seeing consumers take up? 

Robert Chapman's picture
Thank Robert for the Post!
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