The State of California has adopted a deep greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, but decarbonizing the power generation sector cannot lead to such aggressive emissions reductions by itself since only 21 percent of total statewide GHG emissions originate from power generation. Therefore, widespread electrification, i.e., switching direct fossil fuel use to electricity, along with smart grid deployment, is essential for meeting deep emissions reduction targets. In this study, the load-balancing and emission impacts of electrifying end-use energy sectors while decarbonizing power generation, and deploying smart-grid technologies are analyzed using detailed modeling of infrastructure, feedstocks and economic dispatch of the electric grid. In the most comprehensive scenario, all end-use energy sectors are partly electrified by 2030 via replacing gas-fired end-uses with highly efficient electric technologies. The electric power generation sector is decarbonized through installing higher levels of renewable power meeting nearly 50 percent of total California electric energy demand in 2030. Various smart grid technologies including battery energy storage, demand response, and smart electric vehicle charging are implemented in the end-use sectors in order to accommodate and complement higher levels of renewable power resources. It is found that decarbonizing the electric power generation without electrifying end-use sectors increases CO2 emissions by 3.1 percent, while end-use electrification alongside utility scale and distributed renewable resource integration and smart grid technology implementation can yield up to a 29 percent reduction in CO2 emissions in 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

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