A new study published in Science by the energy
consulting firm E3 says that switching almost all fossil fuel use to
electricity will play a key role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the
“Absent dramatic changes in people’s behavior, or an
unforeseen breakthrough in new technology, we found that there is only one way
to meet the GHG goal” of 80 percent below 1990 emissions levels by 2050,” said Dr. Jim Williams, lead author of the study and Chief Scientist at the
“Meeting the goal requires unprecedented levels of
energy efficiency, completely decarbonizing electric generation, and switching
almost all fossil fuel use to electricity,” Dr. Williams added.
The study, written jointly by energy economists from E3 and
scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, develops a new approach
for energy planning to address climate change. The authors’ approach
links policy decisions to transformation of infrastructure, then calculates
energy use, CO2 emissions, and cost.
The study estimates the annual cost of meeting the 2050 goal
would be about $1,200 per person by 2050 relative to a
“business as usual” case. But achieving the goal may actually cost
less than business as usual if oil tops roughly $250 a barrel (in
today’s dollars) by 2050. Furthermore, the uncertain but likely enormous
costs of climate change on the world would be far greater than $1,200 per
person per year.
The study also found that smart charging of electric
vehicles and better vehicle batteries are among the technologies required to
meet the emissions target. The implications of this study would represent a
striking transition away from oil dependence and towards electricity. The best
way to measure the cost of energy would no longer be a barrel of oil, but the
cost of a carbon-free kilowatt-hour.
“This study means that our electric utilities will be
the central players in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the long term. This
isn’t only about what the world needs to look like in 2050, it’s about the
pathway and what we need to do now. We have to improve key technologies
this decade before we need them to be widely commercialized in 2020 and beyond,” said Snuller Price, co-author of the study and a Partner at E3.
By Greentechlead.com Team