A Look at Electrification Initiatives
This story is excerpted from “Buildings and Transportation Electrification: Coming Soon to a Community Near You,” published in the Fall issue of Solar Today. Author George Burmeister is President of Colorado Energy Group in Boulder, Colorado where he primarily provides climate and clean energy policy advice to state and local governments since 1997.
Thanks to dramatic cost declines and thousands of large solar projects coming on-line, electrification of the buildings and transportation sectors, along with the decarbonization of the electricity grid, is probably the biggest front-page news in the energy industry since deregulation.
California leads the country on electrification.1 After an extensive public comment period, on August 11, 2021, the California Energy Commission adopted energy efficiency standards for new construction and renovations, the country’s first statewide building code that incentives all-electric construction. Effective in January 2023, the 2022 Energy Code encourages electric heat pumps for space and water heating, expands solar and battery storage standards and adopts electric-ready requirements for single-family homes.
Electrification: Underpinned with Sound Science
Despite the recent lack of science-based decisions at the federal level, some of the greatest minds in our national laboratories and the clean energy space are providing new GHG-related analyses to utilities, cities and states and their consultants. Major electrification initiatives are underway at the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). In an updated 2018 report,2 RMI compared the cost of building an all-electric single-family home to a gas-fired home in seven cities around the U.S. The findings revealed that the all-electric homes saved money and reduced carbon pollution in every case. Additionally, running natural gas lines to new homes and maintaining them over decades is expensive. RMI found that up-front costs can be as much as $24K per home.
These initiatives acknowledge that end-use electrification coupled with the decarbonization of electricity generation is a key pathway to achieving a low-carbon future in the United States. In our lifetime.
In June 2021, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) announced that the U.S. solar market surpassed 100 gigawatts (GWdc) of installed electric generating capacity, doubling the size of the industry over the last 3.5 years.
Solar had a record-setting Q1 2021 and accounted for 58% of all new electric capacity additions in the United States.3
Renewable energy accounted for nearly 100% of all new electric capacity in Q1. Utility-scale renewables now account for 24.77% of the total of all installed generating capacity and expanded their lead over coal (19.28%).4
On August 5, 2021, President Biden signed an executive order that sets a target that half of all vehicles sold in the U.S. be electric by 2030. U.S. automakers pledged 40 to 50% of new car sales will be electric by 2030.5
More than 2,011 jurisdictions in 34 countries have declared a climate emergency. Populations covered by jurisdictions that have declared a climate emergency amount to over one billion people.6
More than 60 California cities including Berkeley, Ojai, San Francisco, and San Jose have, or are considering, banning natural gas in future buildings based on health and safety reasons, or based on energy/GHGs as part of a “reach code.” Los Angeles and Los Angeles County are aggressively working on electrification initiatives as well.7
Originally published by the American Solar Energy Society in the Fall 2021 issue of Solar Today. Read the entire article.