Biden decarbonization goals could triple reliance on electric grid: EPRI

At-a-Glance: 

Maintaining grid reliability is a mis-guided plight within the energy transition journey. The Biden administration has set a target to reduce economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 50-52% by 2030 on the path to a carbon-neutral economy in 2050, and this adjustment will require transitioning the transportation sector to electric vehicles and electrifying buildings and industrial processes that currently run on fossil fuels. Preparing the electric grid for the new normal is a crucial aspect in transitioning the energy sector. Read more on, “Biden decarbonization goals could triple reliance on electric grid: EPRI.

Key Takeaways:

  • 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.
  • To meet the 2030 target, EPRI sees electricity’s share of end-use energy consumption rising from 20% to 33%. Looking out to 2050, that could rise to 40-60%.
  • There will be a “massive increase in dependence on the electricity sector by society as we go forward,” requiring better energy planning and modeling, collaborative innovation across the industry, and supportive policies and regulations.

Path to 100% Perspective:

The electric grid is expected to be tripled in the coming years – developing the supportive infrastructure to offer a reliable, carbon-free and flexible power system requires proactive solutions to answer the call. Addressing grid capacity will be essential to realizing a 100% zero emission electricity system by 2050, and solar, wind, hydro and nuclear will all play a role in the future grid – the Path to 100% will require leveraging the appropriate technologies and renewable fuels to equip the energy transition. Clean energy goals along with clean energy investments is accelerating the decarbonization journey by putting a focus on decreasing carbon emissions, and in order to accommodate the significant amount of renewables to be installed – flexibility in the form of energy storage and carbon neutral flexible gas power plants will be key to balancing the grid. 

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Can a Green-Economy Boom Town Be Built to Last?

At-a-Glance:

As it prepares to deliver its first electric pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles this year, Rivian has spent around $1.5 billion renovating and expanding a factory once owned by Mitsubishi. On a typical day the 3.3-million-square-foot plant hosts several hundred construction workers alongside more than 2,500 workers employed by the company, which expects to eventually double its local head count. To learn more, read, Can a Green-Economy Boom Town Be Built to Last?”

Key Takeaways:

  • Electric vehicles require fewer workers to make than gasoline-powered ones.
  • Rivian’s prospects appear strong — it filed for a public stock offering in August, seeking a valuation of roughly $70 billion — the company could be overwhelmed by a growing list of competitors.
  • A nearby community college started a program this fall to train electric vehicle technicians, and Illinois State University, which abuts Uptown, is building an engineering school partly in response to Rivian.

Path to 100% Perspective: 

The economics are on our side. Power generation is undergoing fast trans- formation towards cleaner energy sources due to low-cost renewables. In addition, rapidly maturing energy storage technologies, together with sector coupling, are for the first time paving a route towards zero-emission electricity generation. In order for organizations and communities to build on the energy transition, there needs to be realistic and strategic planning, investments in innovation and commitment to accelerate decarbonization using a mix of renewable energy, fuels produced by renewable energy and energy storage.

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Xcel cuts carbon emissions 50% by 2021, eyes Colorado transmission, coal plants to reach 2030 goal

At-a-Glance:

Xcel Energy estimates that it has reduced carbon emissions 50% below 2005 levels in 2020, and is on track to meet its 2030 target of reducing carbon emissions 80% in the next decade, based on its upcoming integrated resource plans (IRPs). To learn more, read “Xcel cuts carbon emissions 50% by 2021, eyes Colorado transmission, coal plants to reach 2030 goal.”

 Key Takeaways:

  • Xcel completed six wind projects in 2020, representing nearly 1,500 MW of capacity. Another 800 MW of wind projects are under construction and expected to become operational in 2021.
  • Xcel plans to file solar plans with Minnesota regulators later this year, which would have the utility develop 460 MW of solar near its Sherco coal plant – retiring in 2030 – to take advantage of existing transmission near the plant.
  • Although specifics are not available regarding Xcel’s upcoming Colorado IRP, the plan will include transmission expansion to bring additional load from remote-located renewables into the Denver area.
  • Xcel will also propose a plan for its remaining Colorado coal plants, as well as adding more renewables, to put the utility on track to reduce its carbon footprint 80% by 2030.
  • Xcel plans to exit coal entirely in Minnesota by 2030.
  • Xcel executives will continue to be bullish on electric vehicle infrastructure build outs, investing $500 million in charging stations and distribution system infrastructure over the next five years, and closer to $1.5 – 2 billion over the next decade.

Path to 100% Perspective:

Xcel is paving the path to 100% for those in the energy sector, setting and meeting ambitious carbon reduction goals and building out its renewable energy capacity. Leveraging existing infrastructure while making key investments in solar and wind will help ease the transition to 100% carbon-free energy and serve as an example to others looking to do the same.

 

 

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