New study: California emissions targets can’t be met without EVs

Renewable energy and conservation alone won’t be enough for California to meet its target of reducing 2050 carbon emissions 80% below the 1990 level, according to a new paper published.

 

Renewable energy and conservation alone won’t be enough for California to meet its target of reducing 2050 carbon emissions 80% below the 1990 level, according to a new paper published in the journal Science. The team of writers, which included experts from the University of California and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, created an extremely detailed model of California’s future economy and energy mix. One inescapable conclusion: widespread electrification of transportation will be a critical component.

According to the study, a lot is going to have to happen for the green state to meet its ambitious CO2 target:

– Energy efficiency must improve by at least 1.3% per year over 40 years.

– The electricity supply must be almost totally decarbonized.

– Most existing fuel uses must be electrified, with electricity constituting 55% of end-use energy in 2050, compared to 15% today.

Without electrification, the other measures combined will produce at best a 50% reduction of emissions below the 1990 level.

The report identified many energy-related technologies and infrastructure systems that will require major improvement. The list includes electric vehicle batteries and “smart charging,” which is essential for keeping the cost of electrification manageable through automated control of charging times and levels.

Now the hard part: the pieces of the green puzzle must be put in place in a coordinated way to achieve their hoped-for emission reductions at reasonable cost. For example, switching to EVs without switching to renewable energy would clean up only a little of the nasty carbon, and large-scale deployment of electric vehicles without smart charging would wreak havoc on the electrical grid.

 

Image: General Motors