Mass adoption of electric transportation (this includes off-road applications) would lead to substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new report from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
The new report — “Environmental Assessment of a Full Electric Transportation Portfolio” — also notes that such a mass adoption would result in notable improvements to air quality in many/most regions. Much of the air quality improvements would be via the phasing out of heavily polluting industrial equipment such as diesel forklifts, lawn mowers, etc (and replaced with electric equivalents).
“This research points to the importance of two fundamental and parallel trends in energy and the environment,” stated Mike Howard, EPRI president + CEO. “First is the continuing decarbonization of the electricity sector and second is the electrification of energy use in transportation and industry. We expect to see continued interest and work in measuring and understanding these trends more fully in the years and decades ahead.”
The report is the product of an analysis of two possible scenarios — a baseline greenhouse gas emissions scenario, and a low greenhouse gas emissions scenario. Both of the scenarios show a decrease in emissions over time (regulations, changing economics, etc), with the differences being in speed and scale.
Here are some key findings of the analyses:
- In the Base GHG scenario, the study estimates that, by 2050, the electricity sector could reduce annual GHG emissions by 1030 million metric tons relative to 2015 levels, a 45% reduction.
- In the Lower GHG scenario, the study estimates that, by 2050, the electricity sector could reduce annual GHG emissions by 1700 million metric tons relative to 2015 levels, a 77% reduction.
- In the Base GHG scenario, emissions were reduced by 430 million metric tons annually in 2050—equivalent to removing 80 million passenger cars from the road.
- In the Lower GHG scenario, emissions were reduced by 550 million metric tons annually in 2050—equivalent to removing 100 million passenger cars.
- When combining reductions from vehicle electrification, a cleaner electric sector, and existing programs that improve conventional vehicle efficiency, the modeled electricity and transportation sectors together achieve a 48% reduction in GHG emissions between 2015 and 2050 in the Base GHG scenario, and a 70% reduction in the Lower GHG scenario.
- In the Lower GHG scenario, in 2050, total emissions for the electricity and transportation sectors could be reduced by 2610 million metric tons relative to 2015 levels.
“The potential reductions here (air pollution) are significant,” stated David Hawkins, the director of climate programs at NRDC. “Widespread transportation electrification should be a key part of the US strategy to combat climate change and ensure a clean energy future.”
“Today’s study gives us a clear vision of how expanding transportation electrification is a key strategy to achieving critical greenhouse gas and air quality goals,” stated Ted Craver, chairman, the president + CEO of Edison International. “This underscores the important role utilities can play nationally in accelerating the market through efforts such as investing in infrastructure to support public and workplace charging stations and incorporating EVs into our own fleets.”