An EPRI study shows that electricity could power up to 70% of the New York economy by 2050. The study, Electrification Scenarios for New York’s Energy Future, examines electrification opportunities in New York over the next three decades, along with key implications for energy efficiency, the environment, and the grid. EPRI conducted the study in collaboration with Con Edison, the New York Power Authority, and the New York Independent System Operator. It is one of more than a dozen state-focused projects that build on EPRI’s 2018 U.S. National Electrification Assessment.
As a first step in the study, EPRI integrated extensive in-state and county data into its U.S. Regional Economy, Greenhouse Gas, and Energy (US-REGEN) model to capture characteristics unique to New York’s energy system, households, and economy. For more than a decade, EPRI has used US-REGEN for various energy system analyses, including its U.S. National Electrification Assessment.
EPRI researchers modeled the impacts of adoption of electric technologies across several scenarios with varying policy, economic, and technology factors. “What is the extent and timing of electrification? What are the infrastructure and investment needs? What are the resulting economy-wide emissions reductions?” said EPRI Principal Technical Leader Delavane Diaz, one of the study’s authors. “These were some of the impacts we examined through our scenario approach.” She noted that the study was not designed to identify a single pathway to achieving the state’s greenhouse gas reduction targets, though it offers insights on the system-level implications of deep decarbonization through electrification.
- There is significant potential for electrification and associated reductions in CO2 emissions. Across the study’s four principal scenarios, electricity’s share of final energy use ranges from 28% to 70% in 2050, up from about 20% today. Energy efficiency and electric transportation offer the greatest potential for cost-effective emissions reduction. Under the most transformational scenario, in which electricity powers 70% of the economy, CO2 emissions drop to 86% percent below 1990 levels.
- The baseline scenario projects that 950,000 passenger electric vehicle (EVs) will be on New York roads in 2025 and 2.3 million in 2030. EVs are expected to account for 50% of new light-duty vehicle sales by 2030. An extensive charging network will be needed to enable this widespread adoption.
- Relative to other regions of the United States, New York’s winter climate and building stock require advanced technologies to achieve widespread heating electrification. In New York, today’s electric heat pumps are less cost-effective than natural gas furnaces due to higher upfront capital and installation costs, though lifetime economics could improve with significant advances in next-generation heat pumps designed for cold climates.
- In all scenarios, statewide peak demand shifts from summer afternoons to winter mornings and increases as a result of heat pump adoption and greater EV charging in low temperatures. Summer demand drops as a result of air conditioning efficiency improvements. In those scenarios in which utility customers electrify nearly all space heating and transportation, peak winter demand in 2050 could be more than twice as high as today’s system peak. Opportunities to reduce peak demand include load-shifting strategies (such as smart EV charging, time-of-use pricing, and behind-the-meter storage) and load reduction strategies (such as building envelope efficiency improvements and advanced, cold-climate heating technologies including ground-source or dual-fuel systems).
- A full portfolio of advanced technologies will be critical to decarbonizing electricity generation and balancing system operations. As more renewables are added to the grid, dispatchable energy resources will be needed to maintain reliability. The need for additional transmission is projected for integrating large off-shore wind deployments and to move renewable generation from upstate New York to downstate population centers. Broadening the state’s portfolio of low-carbon, flexible generation assets can reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
“This study illustrates how an expanded portfolio of electric technologies could play a significant role in reaching New York’s energy and decarbonization goals,” said Diaz. “Our initial findings identify additional research opportunities in key areas—like peak management, market design, grid modernization, and system planning—where stakeholders can work together to guide the transition to New York’s clean energy future.”
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Artwork by Ariel Davis