Tuesday, October 27, 2020

No Place Like Home: Fighting Climate Change (and Saving Money) by Electrifying America’s Households

Many Americans feel powerless to confront the enormity of climate change, especially when it seems that switching to clean energy at home — by buying electric cars or installing solar panels, for instance — is prohibitively expensive.
But [this] new report shows that the average American household can both fight climate change and save money at the same time. We can do it using existing technology, without sacrificing any comforts of home. In other words, we’ll have the same number of cars, ovens, dryers, refrigerators, air conditioners and heaters, but at dramatically lower cost and without the indoor and environmental pollution that accompany burning fossil fuels. If done right, we would create millions of new, good-paying jobs in every zip code, save each household on average between $1,050 to $2,585 per year on its energy bills, and dramatically reduce economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions — all the while enjoying zippier cars and smarter appliances.

[This paper models] two scenarios for decarbonizing the American household. We are showing that if we want a moon shot — zero-carbon energy in every home — here's how to build the rocket.
We spend more on electricity ($1,496) than we do on education ($1,407). We spend more on natural gas ($409) than dental services ($315). And we spend more on gasoline ($1,929) than we do on meat, poultry, fish, eggs, fruit and vegetables combined ($1,817).
We see some variation state–to–state, but going electric saves significant energy across the board.

The electrified U.S. household uses substantially less energy than current homes. One area of enormous savings is the elimination of thermoelectric losses in electricity generation, assuming we will provide our future loads with renewables. The efficiency of electric cars over internal combustion engine (ICE)
vehicles also generates substantial savings.
Similarly, [the report] shows the substantial savings derived from the high efficiency of heat pumps for space and water heating.

Today, a household electrification upgrade is expensive Using price estimates5 to find the difference between fossil-fueled and electric infrastructure, we find that today it would cost a household around $70,000 to completely decarbonize, something only the wealthiest households can afford. Below, we show the capital costs by state, using the electrification plan described above. ...

We need to prioritize lowering these costs using regulatory reform and industrial scaling. We also need to prioritize financing to help American households afford these items.

The table below summarizes the most important model parameters

For reference, Australia already installs rooftop solar at around U.S. $1.20/W, and the DOE’s Sunshot program is on track to systematically bring costs down to less than $1.00/W. Batteries are available at $120/kWh in packs, and scaling predicts prices below $75/kWh by 2030.

Costs are falling, and massive scale is key As a natural trend of huge industrial scale, clean energy solutions are getting exponentially cheaper. With every doubling in delivered solar modules, the price is dropping 22%. The same watt of electricity that cost $4 in 2000 now costs just $0.26,10 and at the scale of this study, just $0.18. For battery storage, every doubling reduces price 20%. The battery pack that cost $1,000 in year 2000, now costs $130,11 and at the scale implied by this study, just $65 (even lower than we have assumed).

All of these households saving money adds up to large savings on a national scale. In the Great scenario, more than $320 billion dollars in household savings will flow into the larger economy

By Saul Griffith and Sam Calisch
Rewiring America www.RewiringAmerica.org
October 2020 | By Saul Griffith and Sam Calisch

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