The Technology Path to Deep Greenhouse Gas Emissions Cuts by 2050: The Pivotal Role of Electricity
Several states and countries have adopted targets for deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, but there has been little physically realistic modeling of the energy and economic transformations required. We analyzed the infrastructure and technology path required to meet California's goal of an 80% reduction below 1990 levels, using detailed modeling of infrastructure stocks, resource constraints, and electricity system operability. We found that technically feasible levels of energy efficiency and decarbonized energy supply alone are not sufficient; widespread electrification of transportation and other sectors is required. Decarbonized electricity would become the dominant form of energy supply, posing challenges and opportunities for economic growth and climate policy. This transformation demands technologies that are not yet commercialized, as well as coordination of investment, technology development, and infrastructure deployment.