MONDAY STUDY: SoCal’s Utility Goes Big On New Energy
Pathway 2045; Update to the Clean Power and Electrification Pathway
November 2019 (Southern California Edison)
By 2045, California will undergo a remarkable evolution. Supported by its residents, the state will achieve carbon neutrality to reduce the threat of climate change. This will require substantial decarbonization of all sectors of the economy and will necessitate rigorous planning to keep energy safe, reliable and affordable.
‘Pathway 2045 examines the energy implications of California’s longterm decarbonization goals on both the economy and the electric sector and maps out a feasible and low-cost path to meeting these goals. Pathway 2045 builds on The Clean Power and Electrification Pathway,1 Southern California Edison’s 2017 analysis of what will be required to meet 2030 interim goals.
Pathway 2045 concludes that the changes required across California’s economy are profound: Decarbonization is achieved through powering 100% of retail sales* with carbon-free electricity, electrifying transportation and buildings and using low-carbon fuels for technologies that are not viable for electrification.
’ The remaining carbon is sequestered to reach carbon neutrality (Figure 1). Emerging technologies and practices will be required to find the most economical method to remove carbon at this scale.
To economically meet both the 2030 and 2045 decarbonization goals, the electric sector needs to decarbonize more quickly than currently required. By 2045, significant electrification of the state’s economy combined with population and economic growth will result in a 60% increase in electricity sales from the grid and a 40% increase in peak load.
Eighty gigawatts (GW) of new utility-scale clean generation and 30 GW of utility-scale energy storage will be required in the next 25 years. Energy storage will be essential because the most costeffective, carbon-free generation sources — wind and solar — are intermittent. Thirty additional GW of generation capacity and 10 GW of storage will come from distributed energy resources (DERs) including up to 50% of single-family homes in California which, driven by improved economics, building codes and supportive but equitable policies, are projected to have customer-sited solar by 2045.
The grid must have sufficient capacity and continue to modernize to harness the full potential of DERs. Electrification will further increase customers’ reliance on the grid, underscoring the need to build in additional resilience to withstand the more frequent and severe weather conditions due to climate change impacts. Grid hardening efforts today along with system designs that accommodate increasing flexibility and more monitoring should reduce these risks. At the same time, California’s leadership in deep decarbonization can be a global model that helps mitigate the further threats of climate change.
Natural gas and low-carbon fuels:
Services provided by natural gas today, such as supporting electric grid reliability, will still be needed in 2045. Natural gas consumption in 2045 will decline 50% from today, and cost impacts on remaining gas customers will need to be managed. At least 40% of the remaining gas will need to be low-carbon fuels such as biomethane or hydrogen. Other hard-to-electrify sectors such as heavy-duty transportation and some industrial processes will also rely on a combination of natural gas and low-carbon fuels. Research and development is necessary to bring these lowcarbon fuels to commercial viability and required scale.
Three-quarters of light-duty vehicles, twothirds of medium-duty vehicles and one-third of heavy-duty vehicles will need to be electric by 2045. Vehicle affordability, product diversity and charging infrastructure availability are needed to accelerate adoption to meet 2030 targets and prepare for 2045.
Almost three-quarters of space and water heating needs to be electric by 2045. Given the long life cycles of space and water heating equipment, significant consumer awareness and education need to be supported now to speed adoption. Customers will benefit from the significant efficiency provided by electrification, as well as from energy efficiency and demand response programs that help to lower customer consumption and bills.
The cost and benefits for Californians:
The clean energy and grid investments required to meet 2045 goals is a tremendous economic development opportunity for California. Utility-scale generation and storage and the supporting grid represent up to $250 billion of clean energy and grid investments and include thousands of sustaining craft and skilled jobs.
As California decarbonizes, energy must remain affordable for all of the state’s consumers, including our most vulnerable residents. Electrification produces savings for an average household, but late adopters who continue to rely on natural gas for their homes or gasoline for their cars will be increasingly burdened in the transition.
Robust, coordinated and targeted policies are needed to clean the power supply; build, operate and maintain a reliable and resilient grid; and move customers to adopt new technologies and programs. Advancing and scaling up adoption of new technologies will require incentives, regulations and other market transformation policies.
Most importantly, through this transition, all California residents will benefit from greatly reduced greenhouse gas emissions (Figure 2) and new economic opportunities.