One of the biggest challenges facing the San Diego and California region is how to decarbonize key economic sectors over the next two decades, while helping to ensure the reliability, affordability and fairness of electricity. A study released today by San Diego Gas & Electric offers recommendations designed to help meet the monumental challenge of reaching California’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2045 – eliminating as many carbon emissions from the atmosphere that the state produces.
While other studies have been published on how to decarbonize the California economy through the electrification of sectors such as transportation and buildings, the SDG&E study, “The Path to Net Zero: A Decarbonization Roadmap for California“, also incorporates the utility industry standard for reliability for the first time using industry-specific planning tools to chart what we believe is an achievable approach. The industry standard considers an electrical system to be reliable if it experiences only one power outage every ten years due to the likelihood of power demand exceeding supply.
Conducted with technical support from the Boston Consulting Group, Black & Veatch, and Professor David G. Victor of UC San Diego, the study concluded that a diverse decarbonization approach is needed: a combination of clean electricity, clean fuels (such as renewable natural gas and hydrogen) and carbon removal.
“Accelerated electrification of transportation and other sectors is critical to the sustainability of California and our region. It is also extremely important that California consider electrical reliability and leave no one behind when developing a decarbonization roadmap,” said Caroline Winn, CEO of SDG&E. “Given the scale of the transformation required to achieve California’s ambitious goals, collaboration across many sectors will be essential.
SDG&E alone cannot implement decarbonization Roadmapbut we are committed to contributing to a fair, safe, reliable and affordable energy transition, and this includes investments in electric vehicle charging infrastructure, grid modernization and emerging innovations like carbon-based energy storage. long-lasting hydrogen.
Victor, co-director of UCSD’s Deep Decarbonization Initiative, served as the study’s advisor and echoed one of its key findings. “While the exact mix of technologies and investments needed to reach net zero is unknown at present, what is certain today is that a flexible and diverse approach to decarbonization is both prudent and necessary to help us eliminate carbon emissions while maintaining grid reliability,” he said. Victor also noted that decarbonization, done right, could actually reduce the fraction of California’s economy spent to energy services while providing leadership on global emission reduction strategies.
“The state’s clean energy industry is poised to lead the way in decarbonization and provide solutions that benefit our environment, local communities and the economy,” said Jason Anderson, president and CEO of Cleantech San Diego. “SDG&E’s analysis helps shine a light on the importance of policy collaboration and the need to rapidly develop a wide range of innovative energy technologies to meet California’s climate goals.”
“As an advocate for a fair and equitable energy transition, I believe we all need to work together to accelerate the pace of decarbonization and get everyone on board,” County Chairman Nathan Fletcher said. “We need to provide support to low-income households and workers as the region moves towards adopting clean technologies, such as electric vehicles and electric appliances.”
Takeaways from the study
- It is estimated that California needs to decarbonize at 4.5 times the rate of the past decade to reach its goal of carbon neutrality and mitigate the negative impacts of climate change.
- It is estimated that power generation capacity will need to be increased to around four times the capacity that existed in 2020, in order to support transport and building electrification. Between 2020 and 2045, electricity consumption is expected to increase by 96%.
- To maintain electric service reliability, California will need to supplement its growing portfolio of intermittent solar and wind generation with a mix of clean, firm, and flexible resources that can be dispatched at any time to meet demand. The installation of 40 GW of new storage batteries, as well as 20 GW of dispatchable production from 100% clean combustion of hydrogen by 2045 is necessary to achieve this objective. According to the California Independent System Operator, the statewide network is interconnected for approximately 2,600 MW of energy storage from January 2022, but no electricity production from the combustion of 100% clean hydrogen.
- It is estimated that by 2045 there will be a demand for 6.5 million metric tons of clean hydrogen across the economy, 80% of which is expected to be used to improve the reliability of electricity supply.
- Implementing the roadmap requires regulatory and policy support on four fronts to: 1) prioritize power sector reliability; 2) maintain affordability and improve equity; 3) encouraging innovation and adaptability; 4) and enable the deployment of decarbonization infrastructure.
- The implementation of the Roadmap requires regulatory and policy support on four fronts to: 1) prioritize power sector reliability; 2) maintain affordability and improve equity; 3) encouraging innovation and adaptability; 4) and enable the deployment of decarbonization infrastructure.
- To help accelerate the energy transition, SDG&E will share this study widely with key stakeholders to stimulate conversations and cross-industry collaboration.