The Path To Net-zero Energy Communities In Boston: Profitability And Sustainability – Achieving zero net emissions of carbon dioxide from energy and industry by 2050 can be achieved by rebuilding the U.S. energy infrastructure. to run primarily on renewable energy, with a net cost of about $1 per person per day, according to new research published by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), the University of San Francisco (USF), and consulting firm Evolved Energy Research.
The researchers created a detailed model of the entire U.S. energy and industrial system. to produce the first detailed peer-reviewed study on how to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world must achieve zero net CO2 emissions by mid-century to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and avoid the effects of climate change the most dangerous.
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The Path To Net-zero Energy Communities In Boston: Profitability And Sustainability
The researchers developed a range of feasible technological pathways that differ widely in residual fossil fuel use, land use, consumer use, nuclear energy and bio-based fuel use but share a key set of strategies. “By systematically increasing energy efficiency, transitioning to electric technologies, using clean electricity (especially wind and solar power), and using a small amount of carbon capture technology, the United States can achieve zero emissions,” write the authors in “Carbon Neutral Pathways for the United States ,” published recently in the scientific journal AGU Advances.
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“The decarbonization of the U.S. energy system is fundamentally an infrastructure transformation,” said Berkeley Lab senior scientist Margaret Torn, one of the study’s lead authors. “This means that by 2050 we will need to build many gigawatts of wind and solar power plants, new transmission lines, a fleet of electric cars and light trucks, millions of heat pumps to replace conventional furnaces and water heaters, and more energy-efficient buildings. – while continuing to research and innovate new technologies.”
In this transition, very little infrastructure will require “early retirement,” or replacement before the end of its economic life. “No one is asking consumers to convert their new car to an electric vehicle,” Torn said. “The bottom line is that efficient low-carbon technologies need to be used when the time comes to replace current equipment.”
The pathways studied have net costs ranging from 0.2% to 1.2% of GDP, with higher costs resulting from certain trade-offs, such as limiting the amount of land given over to solar and wind farms. In the lowest cost path, about 90% of electricity generation comes from wind and solar. One scenario suggests that the U.S. can meet all its energy needs with 100% renewable energy (solar, wind and bioenergy), but it costs more and requires greater land use.
“We are very surprised that the cost of the transformation is now lower than a similar study we did five years ago, even though this achieved a more ambitious carbon reduction,” said Torn. “The main reason is that the cost of wind and solar energy and batteries for electric vehicles have fallen faster than expected.”
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The scenarios are generated using a new energy model complete with energy consumption and production details – such as the entire U.S. building stock, vehicle fleet, power plants and more – for 16 geographic regions in the U.S. Costs are calculated using projections for fossil fuel and renewable energy prices from the DOE’s Annual Energy Survey and NREL’s Annual Technology Baseline report.
The cost figure would be lower if it included the economic and climate benefits of decarbonizing our energy system. For example, less dependence on oil means less money spent on oil and less economic uncertainty due to oil price fluctuations. Climate benefits include avoided impacts of climate change, such as extreme droughts and hurricanes, avoided air and water pollution from burning fossil fuels, and improved public health.
The economic cost of the scenario is almost exclusively the capital cost of building new infrastructure. But Torn insists there’s an economic upside to that spending: “All that infrastructure building equates to jobs, and potentially jobs in the U.S., as opposed to sending money overseas to buy oil from other countries. There’s no question that there needs to be a thought-out economic transition strategy well for fossil fuel-based industries and communities, but there is also no question that there are many jobs in building a low-carbon economy.”
An important finding of this study is that the actions required in the next 10 years are similar regardless of long-term differences between pathways. In the near term, we need to increase the generation and delivery of renewable energy, ensure that all new infrastructure, such as cars and buildings, is low carbon, and maintain current natural gas capacity for the time being for reliability.
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“This is a very important discovery. We don’t need to fight big now over questions like the construction of short-term nuclear power plants, because new nuclear isn’t needed in the next ten years to be on the net-zero emissions path. Instead we should create policies to drive the steps we know are needed now, while accelerating R&D and further expanding our options for the choices we must make starting in the 2030s,” said study lead author Jim Williams, associate professor of Energy Systems Management at USF and Berkeley Lab scientists.
Another important achievement of this study is that it is the first published work to provide a detailed road map of how the U.S. energy and industrial system will evolve. could be a source of negative CO2 emissions by mid-century, meaning more carbon dioxide is being removed from the atmosphere than added.
According to the study, with higher levels of carbon capture, biofuels and electric fuels, the US energy and industrial system could be a “net negative” to 500 million metric tons of CO2 removed from the atmosphere each year. (This would require more electricity generation, land use and interstate transmission to achieve.) The authors calculate the cost of this net negative pathway to be 0.6% of GDP – only slightly higher than the cost of the main carbon neutral pathway of 0.4% of GDP. “This is affordable for the community just for energy reasons alone,” said Williams.
When combined with increased CO2 uptake by the soil, particularly by changing agricultural and forest management practices, the researchers calculated that a net negative emissions scenario would put the U.S. on track with the global trajectory to reduce atmospheric CO2 concentrations to 350 parts per million (ppm). ) at some distance in the future. The 350 ppm endpoint of this global trajectory has been described by many scientists as what is needed to stabilize the climate at levels similar to pre-industrial times.
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The study was supported in part by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, a United Nations initiative.
Founded in 1931 on the belief that the greatest scientific challenges are best tackled by teams, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and its scientists have been recognized with 14 Nobel Prizes. Today, Berkeley Lab researchers develop sustainable energy and environmental solutions, create useful new materials, advance the frontiers of computing, and probe the mysteries of life, matter, and the universe. Scientists from around the world rely on the Laboratory’s facilities for their own discovery science. Berkeley Lab is a multi-program national laboratory, managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.
DOE’s Office of Science is the largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit energy.gov/science. As the reality of climate change increasingly enters our daily lives, communities across the country are working to ensure a resilient future for themselves and their environment. One of the main challenges facing forward-thinking communities, both large and small, is how to transition to a reliable and clean energy supply. Our colleagues at the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), founded by frequent speaker Amory Lovins, have become world-class leaders in helping communities design and transform their energy systems.
As a direct result of the partnership with RMI, the City of Fort Collins, CO recently announced their rapid climate action plan, a 20% reduction in emissions by 2020 and 80% by 2030 (compared to 2005 levels).
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, represents bold vision and leadership, which is much needed today. Fort Collins initially worked with RMI through their “eLab Accelerator” program.
This webinar will cover some of the key advantages of community energy policy and transformation, moving from business as usual to net zero energy and beyond. How is Ft. Collins got to where they were? Are there other cities and projects that can be a model for the rest of the country? How can your community engage with the Rocky Mountain Institute and its network to work toward these necessary goals?
This webinar is for current members of the Resilient Communities Network. For current members, please feel free to invite a selection of relevant leaders on energy issues in your community to participate. The presentation will not be boring but will be of a high enough standard that those well versed in energy policy and activities will find it valuable.
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