How We Get to Net Zero by 2050

“…if we are serious about deep decarbonization, every week needs to be Infrastructure Week from now on.” Jason Bordoff, Columbia University

A recent article in the Washington Post outlines the changes we will need to make in the next 29 years in order to reach Net Zero, based on a detailed study by Princeton University.  Their energy experts state that the cost of this transformation is affordable, and we have the tools we need to accomplish the task.  However the massive scale of this energy overhaul will require a sustained national commitment.

Per the Post article, “… it would still require a massive technological phase shift and an utterly remade country. In the next 10 years alone, the report says, we would need to add 50 million electric vehicles, quadruple the size of wind and solar in the United States, and expand the transmission infrastructure by 60 percent. It would certainly take a concerted effort — and legislation that, right now, it is hard to imagine Congress signing onto.”

“The Princeton team used detailed energy-system modeling, with five separate scenarios, to figure out how the United States could cease to emit any net amount of greenhouse gases by 2050. The details vary. For instance, most scenarios still use some nuclear power and some fossil fuels, but with carbon capture to remove their emissions. But a 100 percent renewable-energy scenario, somewhat more costly to achieve because of its deliberately constrained options, rules even this out.”

“More notable, though, is what is the same in the scenarios. Basically, everything that can be made electric — but especially things such as home heating and cars — gets made electric. And then renewable energy provides the electrons. Furthermore, the Princeton study goes into great detail about how, by 2050, moving those electrons around would require a massive build-out of electric transmission lines, a rough tripling of the existing infrastructure.”

“‘Essentially all studies show that decarbonization means electrification,” said David Victor, an energy policy expert at the University of California at San Diego who was briefed on the Princeton study. “Either a lot of electrification or almost complete electrification. And that’s one of the central results from all these systems.’”

For the complete article, please refer to the Washington Post.

You can see the Princeton study here.