The Clean Energy Transition Institute has released Meeting the Challenge of Our Time: Pathways to a Clean Energy Future for the Northwest, the first economy-wide analysis to examine decarbonization pathways mapped to the Northwest’s economic and institutional realities. We commissioned this study to understand how Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington could technically and economically achieve a low-carbon economy over the next three decades.
The analysis—a deep decarbonization pathways study that looked at trade-offs and opportunities to cut carbon emissions 86% below 1990 levels by 2050 in buildings, transportation, and electricity generation— offers a roadmap for decarbonizing the region. It found that dramatic cuts in carbon emissions are possible in the Northwest at modest capital costs and will generate long-term savings for consumers.
Key findings from Meeting the Challenge of Our Time include:
The study examined eight cases to test the impacts of different assumptions, such as limited transport electrification, increased transmission between the region and California, and constrained biomass supplies.
The study modeled the annual energy system costs of producing, distributing, and consuming energy and compared today’s energy system costs and a Central Case from 2020 to 2050. The Central Case’s net annual costs vary based on the timing of infrastructure investments, peaking at 16.1% ($9.8 billion) above business as usual in 2038 and decreasing to 8.3% ($6.1 billion) higher than business as usual in 2050, roughly 1% of the region’s total GDP in 2017 (more than $870 billion). Although the study concludes that consumers will see modest increases in energy costs in the near term compared to business as usual, by 2050 energy efficiency, transportation electrification, and eliminating fossil fuel expenses will bring lower energy costs.
To explore the study’s findings, please see the following:
Clean Energy Transition Institute | http://www.cleanenergytransition.org
Rocky Mountain Institute | rmi.org