NewEnergyNews: Monday Study – The Climate Benefits Electricity Customers Can Bring


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    Monday, November 22, 2021

    Monday Study – The Climate Benefits Electricity Customers Can Bring

    The Customer Action Pathway to National Decarbonization

    Sanem Sergici, Ryan Hledik, Michael Hagerty, Ahmad Faruqui, Kate Peters, September 27, 2021 (Brattle Group)

    Summary Introduction

    Customer-driven adoption of GHG-reducing technologies will play a key role in achieving decarbonization targets  Ambitious decarbonization targets are being set by states, counties, and cities

     Utilities and states are responding to these decarbonization targets by laying out pathways for achieving them

     We expect these targets to become more aggressive in the next few years at both the state and federal levels The purpose of this study is to quantify the decarbonization impact of customers adopting new technologies and energy consumption behaviors in the next 10-20 years

     This study focuses specifically on the GHG reductions from the residential sector and light-duty vehicles (LDV)

     Brattle’s in-house models are used to estimate the load impact of customer adoption of new technologies and behaviors, and the corresponding GHG emissions impacts at the regional and national level We quantify the total aggregate impact of ambitious but achievable adoption of new GHG-reducing technologies, rather than impacts that are incremental to what is already expected to be achieved under a status quo case

    Customer Action Pathway to Decarbonization

    Since 2005, annual U.S. energy-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have declined by 878 MMT (or 13%)*

     85% of the reductions are from reduced electric power sector generation emissions (e.g., reduced coal generation) While the bulk of the decarbonization work to date focuses on understanding the impact of building a “greener grid”, it is important to consider what can be achieved through customerdirected actions This report focuses on two sectors, Residential and Light-Duty Vehicles, in which customer actions have a direct impact on GHG emissions

     Residential and LDV sectors account for 1,861 MMT in 2021, or about 40% of total U.S. energy-related GHG emissions  Customer adoption of GHG-reducing technologies combined with additional clean power generation will be necessary to reduce emissions We refer to the customer-directed actions analyzed in this study as the “Customer Action Pathway” to decarbonization

    Customer Action Pathway GHG Reducing Technologies

     The primary sources of customer-specific energy demand and GHG emissions are from LDV transportation and residential electricity demand, followed by residential space and water heating

     GHG reducing technologies exist across all sources of energy demand and GHG emissions for customers to play an active role in achieving future GHG emissions reductions

    Customer Action Pathway GHG Emissions Reductions

    The Customer Action Pathway could reduce GHG emissions by 534 MMT in 2040

     Residential electric & gas energy efficiency have the greatest near-term impact reducing 2030 emissions by 158 MMT and 2040 emissions by 180 MMT

     Rising EV adoption increases avoided GHG emissions from 53 MMT in 2030 to 256 MMT in 2040

     Behind the meter (BTM) solar installed on residential homes reduces 2040 emissions by 67 MMT

     Residential space and water heating electrification reduces 2040 emissions by 31 MMT

    Customer Action Pathway Builds on Supply-Side Reductions

    The Customer Action Pathway has the potential to reduce GHG emissions by nearly twice as much as supply-side reductions alone will contribute under existing policies

    Summary of Findings

    Our results highlight the importance of customer-driven actions in achieving ambitious decarbonization goals

     Avoiding 534 MMTCO2 in 2040 is the same as retiring 135 coal plants (Source: EPA)

     Customer Action Pathway GHG emission reduction potential is about 2x greater than projected reductions from supply side decarbonization efforts alone by 2040 under current policies

     GHG reductions achieved through the Customer Action Pathway in 2040 is equivalent to nearly 60% of the annual GHG reductions achieved from all sectors from 2005 to 2021 Near-term emissions reduction potential driven by energy efficiency and BTM solar through 2030, while customer adoption of electric vehicles could provide the largest emissions reductions by 2040

     EE and BTM solar have greatest 2030 impact due to current customer familiarity and higher near-term power generation emission rates. While adoption of both technologies continues beyond 2030 at a slower rate, the emissions impact is less significant by 2040 due to the lower power generation emission rates

     EV adoption emissions impact increase significantly from 2030 to 2040 due to the 4x potential increase in the total EVs on the road and the lower power generation emission rates Additionally, load flexibility (e.g., smart thermostat programs, time-varying rates) will be a critical part of the Customer Action Pathway

     Load Flexibility facilitates the integration of renewable energy resources, reduces renewable energy curtailment, and mitigates the need for system upgrades to serve rising peak demand


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