EPRI Study: Electrification Can Lower Costs, Reduce Energy Use and Emissions

Watch a live recording of the NEA launch event

PALO ALTO, Calif. (April 3, 2018) – A new report by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) concludes that increased use of electric vehicles and increasing customer choice coupled with an expanded array of attractive electricity-powered technologies will help improve U.S. energy efficiency while reducing emissions in concert with substantial economic growth over the next three decades.

EPRI's U.S. National Electrification Assessment (USNEA), released today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., assesses how rapid advances in innovative electric technologies may impact consumers' energy purchases and the resulting implications for energy efficiency, the environment and the electric grid.

EPRI's advanced economic modeling evaluates customer choices in the context of a detailed regional energy model that includes all major economic sectors and energy sources.

"Electric technologies today provide affordable, efficient and cleaner alternatives for many energy uses and further improvement is imminent with fundamental technology advances occurring every day in the end-use, delivery and supply of electricity. This report is intended to stimulate a discussion of how we can achieve the maximum possible benefits from these technology advances – a process we call efficient electrification," said Michael W. Howard, president and CEO of EPRI.

EPRI's assessment examined four core scenarios in considering opportunities, drivers and challenges for efficient electrification. The four scenarios involve different assumptions about the trajectory of technological innovations and environmental policies.

The study found that under each scenario, economy-wide electrification and technology advances led to reductions in energy consumption and emissions driven by electrification and efficiency gains. Natural gas use increases across all four scenarios. Carbon capture and storage becomes an essential technology for natural gas use to continue to grow in the scenarios that assume a future carbon price.

The study highlighted potential shifts in electricity loads across the United States caused primarily by additions of "grid interactive" innovative electric technologies including electric vehicles, heat pump water heaters and other connected devices. The assessment also emphasizes the important efforts to fully integrate them, potentially adding significant flexibility to the grid as highlighted in EPRI's Integrated Grid Benefit-Cost Framework and Integrated Energy Network efforts.

EPRI noted that realizing such benefits is contingent on continued investment in technology innovation to ensure a full-portfolio of electricity generation options, advance electric-powered devices and accelerate the transition to a modernized, flexible, resilient and integrated electricity grid.

"The key observations from this study provide insights into the achievability of a cleaner and more cost-effective future, but EPRI must also focus on advancing the technology and electric system understanding to enable the results of this study to become a reality," Howard said. "EPRI is conducting more detailed analyses of efficient electrification at state and regional levels along with expanding our research collaborations on this topic. We are also working with stakeholders around the world to assess how electrification can lead to a more efficient integrated energy network."

The assessment was summarized by EPRI technical experts Geoff Blanford and Allen Dennis. Their presentations were followed by a panel discussion led by Anda Ray, EPRI senior vice president, and three members of EPRI's Board of Directors: Jeffrey Lyash, president and CEO Ontario Power Generation, Inc.; Pat Vincent-Collawn, chairman, president, and CEO of PNM Resources, Inc.; and Sheryl Carter, director, Power Sector of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

More information is available at EPRI.com, where interested parties can also subscribe to EPRI's monthly electrification newsletter and register to participate in EPRI's inaugural Electrification 2018 conference, August 20–23, 2018, in Long Beach, California.