Researchers develop a how-to guide to slashing California's greenhouse gas emissions by 2050

Nov 24, 2011
How to get from here to there: Seven measures reduce California's emissions from 875 million metric tons of CO2 in the 2050 baseline case to 85 million metric tons of CO2 emissions in the mitigation case.

(PhysOrg.com) -- What will a day in the life of a Californian be like in 40 years? If the state cuts its greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 — a target mandated by a state executive order — a person could wake up in a net-zero energy home, commute to work in a battery-powered car, work in an office with smart windows and solar panels, then return home and plug in her car to a carbon-free grid.

Such is a future envisaged in a study published Nov. 24 by the journal Science that analyzes the infrastructure and technology changes needed to reach California's aggressive emissions reduction goal. The study was conducted by scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the San Francisco-based consulting firm Energy and Environmental Economics (E3).

The researchers describe a not-so distant time in which lights, appliances, and other devices are pushed to unprecedented levels of energy efficiency. Electricity is generated without emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. And most importantly — even after these measures are implemented — cars, heating systems, and most other equipment that now run on oil and natural gas will instead be powered by electricity.

The scientists say that all of this will be technologically feasible by 2050 if today's pace of technology innovation continues.

"This study is meant to guide decisions about how to invest in our future. Assuming plausible technological advances, we find that it's possible for California to achieve deep greenhouse gas reductions by 2050," says Margaret Torn, the corresponding author of the paper and a staff scientist in Berkeley Lab's Earth Sciences Division. Jim Williams, chief scientist at E3 and professor at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, is the lead author of the paper.

"To reach this goal, energy efficiency comes first, followed by decarbonization of electricity generation, followed by the electrification of transportation and other sectors," says Williams.

Step 1: More than a quarter of the emissions reductions needed to reach California's goal will have to come from energy efficiency. Sustained technological improvements are needed, however, such as the advances developed at Berkeley Lab's windows testing facility. Photo: Roy Kaltschmidt

The scientists developed this prescription using a model of California's from 2010 to 2050 that takes into account the state's changing population, economy, and physical infrastructure. The model includes six energy demand sectors (residential, commercial, industrial, agriculture, transportation, and petroleum industry) and two supply sectors (fuel and electricity).

They explored the best ways to reach California's goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in 2050 by 80 percent below 1990 levels. This target is consistent with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fourth Assessment Report, which outlines the global emissions required to stabilize atmospheric concentrations at 450 parts per million. In California, this means a sharp reduction in CO2 emissions per year from 427 million metric tons in 1990 to 85 million metric tons in 2050.

The scientists started with this 85 million metric ton target and worked backwards to determine the changes needed to get there. They arrived at four mitigation scenarios, all of which rely on three major energy system transformations. Among the findings:

Step 2: Electric generation emissions intensity must be reduced to less than 0.02 kilograms of CO2 emissions per kilowatt-hour.

Energy Efficiency Comes First

Energy efficiency has been the low-hanging fruit for decades when it comes to reducing energy demand, and will likely remain so. The scientists found that energy efficiency improvements will net 28 percent of the emissions reductions required to meet California's goal. The catch, however, is that energy efficiency will have to improve by at least 1.3 percent per year over the next 40 years. This is less than the level California achieved during its 2000-2001 electricity crisis, but it has never been sustained for decades.

The scientists found that the largest share of greenhouse gas reductions from energy efficiency comes from the building sector via improvements in building shell, HVAC systems, lighting, and appliances.

Next, Decarbonize Electricity Generation

Another 27 percent reduction in emissions comes from switching to electricity generation technologies that don't pour carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Renewable energy, nuclear power, and fossil fuel-powered generation coupled with carbon capture and storage technology each has the potential to be the chief electricity resource in California. But they all must overcome technical limitations, and they're all currently more expensive than conventional power generation.

Step 3: Most direct fossil fuel uses in transport, buildings, and industry must switch to electricity, raising the electricity share of end-use energy from 15 percent today to 55 percent in 2050.

Because it's unclear which technology or technologies will win out in the long run, the scientists developed three separate scenarios that emphasize how each can reach the target, plus a fourth scenario that includes a blend of all three.

In addition, they determined that Californians can't rely on renewable energy alone. At most, they found that 74 percent of the state's electricity could be supplied by sources such as wind and solar. The scientists also stressed that a renewable energy-intensive grid will require breakthroughs in energy storage and ways to enable smart charging of vehicles, among other technologies.

They also found that 15 percent of the required emissions reductions could come from measures to reduce non-energy related CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions, such as from landfill and agricultural activities. And 14 percent could come from various unrelated technologies and practices such as smart planning of urban areas, biofuels for the trucking and airline industry, and rooftop solar photovoltaics.

And Finally, Goodbye Gas, Hello Electrons

Even after these emission reduction measures are employed, the scientists still came up short in ensuring California meets its emissions reduction goal by 2050. So they turned to cars, space and water heaters, and industrial processes that consume fuel and natural gas. They determined that most of these technologies had to be electrified, with electricity constituting 55 percent of end-use energy in 2050, compared to 15 percent today. Overall, this nets a 16-percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, the final push needed to achieve an 80-percent reduction below 1990 levels.

The largest share of reductions from electrification came from transportation. In the study, 70 percent of vehicle miles traveled — including almost all light-duty vehicle miles — are powered by electricity in 2050.

"The task is daunting, but not impossible. has the right emissions trajectory with Assembly Bill 32," says Williams, referring to California's 2006 emissions legislation. "And it isn't a matter of technology alone. R&D, investment, infrastructure planning, incentives for businesses, even behavior changes, all have to work in tandem. This requires policy, and society needs to be behind it."

Explore further: Confucian thought and China's environmental dilemmas

More information: The study, "The Technology Path to Deep Greenhouse Gas Emissions Cuts by 2050: The Pivotal Role of Electricity," is published Nov. 24 by Science in its online website Science Express.

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Vendicar_Decarian
0.9 / 5 (46) Nov 24, 2011
Sounds like a plan and the reduction targets are realistic. 80 percent reduction over 1990 levels - enough to stabilize the warming climate.

Change will require the eradication of the Republican Party.
omatumr
1.3 / 5 (18) Nov 24, 2011
If the state cuts its greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 . . .


. . . and builds a high invisible fence to keep CO2 from China out of California airspace . . .

This insanity was triggered by seeds of fear planted in world leaders by the vaporization of Hiroshima on 6 Aug 1945 and later nourished by this message from USSR's Khrushchev to USA's President Kennedy on 24 Oct 1962:

www.ibiblio.org/e...jfk.html

They apparently secretly decided to unite nations against an imaginary enemy - AGW.

The main issue now is finding a way to undo the damage inflicted on society from 4-5 decades of manipulated science:

http://dl.dropbox...oots.pdf

http://chiefio.wo...nt-25900

Today I am grateful a Power greater than scared world leaders controls the universe!

Happy Thanksgiving!
Oliver K. Manuel
http://myprofile....anuelo09
antialias_physorg
4.2 / 5 (13) Nov 24, 2011
. . . and builds a high invisible fence to keep CO2 from China out of California airspace . . .


Soooo...your argument is "We dont play because they don't wanna play"?

Grow up! Some time one person (or nation) must make the first adult move. We'd never get anything done otherwise.
Vendicar_Decarian
1.1 / 5 (48) Nov 24, 2011
"and builds a high invisible fence to keep CO2 from China out of California airspace" - OmaTard

You will soon be seeing a lot of fences OmaTard. But yes, you are right. We are all in this climate bubble together, so the solutions will have to come through political action on a global scale.

The key word in this cooperation will be "equity", and hence the need to reduce California CO2 emission levels to 80% below 1990 levels.

When you start to bunk with Bubba, your emission levels will be similarly reduced.
Vendicar_Decarian
1.1 / 5 (50) Nov 24, 2011
It is sad that OmaTard doesn't care about the future of his children or grand children.

I suppose that is one reason why he is no longer allowed to see them.
FrankHerbert
1.4 / 5 (61) Nov 24, 2011
It is sad that OmaTard doesn't care about the future of his children or grand children.


Lol, I didn't need neutron repulsion or this topic to tell me that. Only the police report!

On a more serious note, conspiracy theories are very pernicious and Oliver is an example of the rot they can induce in one's mind (remember he WAS an astrophysicist at one point).

Americans tend to be particularly prone to conspiracy theories via some function of our shared experience. All Americans (and anyone seeking to understand them) should read "The Paranoid Style in American Politics" by Richard Hofstadter.

Here's a link to it: http://karws.gso....yle.html
FrankHerbert
1.2 / 5 (57) Nov 24, 2011
"The paranoid spokesman sees the fate of conspiracy in apocalyptic terms he traffics in the birth and death of whole worlds, whole political orders, whole systems of human values. He is always manning the barricades of civilization. He constantly lives at a turning point. Like religious millenialists he expresses the anxiety of those who are living through the last days and he is sometimes disposed to set a date for the apocalypse. ('Time is running out,' said Welch in 1951. 'Evidence is piling up on many sides and from many sources that October 1952 is the fatal month when Stalin will attack.')"

Sound familiar?

(I fully expect for someone to turn this around on AGW, but I won't address their points until they are made.)
Vendicar_Decarian
1.1 / 5 (48) Nov 24, 2011
And then read this....

When Did the GOP Lose Touch With Reality?

http://nymag.com/...2011-11/
kochevnik
3.7 / 5 (12) Nov 24, 2011
Change will require the eradication of the Republican Party.
The repubs can offer an alternative bill based upon eternal warfare, xtian domonisim, disease, famine and free-market trickle-down poverty to reduce emissions for the 99%.
Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (48) Nov 24, 2011
America is virtually powerless. And will soon not even exist as a single nation thanks to those Republicans.

Bring on the Revolution.
gregor1
1.8 / 5 (15) Nov 25, 2011
So Vendicar. It's democracy that is the problem now? Is this your real message? Is alarming climate change just a ruse to foment radical revolution? Careful. Your disguise is slipping.
Vendicar_Decarian
1.1 / 5 (47) Nov 25, 2011
The lesson is that Democracy is only effective when the public is sufficiently intelligent to be capable of making rational decisions.

This is no longer the case in the United States.

I can think of several solutions only one of which involves a bloody cull of the conservative disease carriers.

socean
4.5 / 5 (8) Nov 25, 2011
We need a way to convert the gas morons spew into electricity. Then they'd be part of the solution.

We could burn them, but I doubt it'd be carbon neutral.
ryggesogn2
1.4 / 5 (17) Nov 25, 2011
CA is on the right track, destroy its economy, forcing people to leave the state cutting the need for cars and power.
tadchem
1.3 / 5 (12) Nov 25, 2011
"Greenhouse gas" emissions are an inevitable consequence of an energy-intensive culture. Industrial CO2, agricultural methane, and high-tech halocarbon emissions will continue as long as people use inductry, agriculture, and technology to try to live better lifestyles than our Neanderthal ancestors. Serious reductions of all these activities can only be achieved by a strategy of restoring Neolithic culture, which seems to be within reach of current DTSC and CARB policies.
Vendicar_Decarian
1.1 / 5 (45) Nov 25, 2011
WRONG

""Greenhouse gas" emissions are an inevitable consequence of an energy-intensive culture." - Tadchem

Greenhouse gas emissions are a consequence of a primitive energy-intensive culture.

Substantial CO2 emissions will continue until Man becomes extinct or avoids extinction by lowering current rates of emission to environmentally sustainable levels.

Ample renewable resources exist to do this.

Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (44) Nov 25, 2011
"CA is on the right track, destroy its economy," - RyggTard

Conservatives like RyggTard have long hated California and this is why they have been working behind the scenes to undermine the economy and government of California.

Enron wasn't the first or last Conservative Plague in California. Most of the damage has been done by a state legislature that allows a minority count of Republicans to prevent measures needed to improve the state economy.

The second most damaging thing to the California Economy has been the Conservative Libertarian push for offshoring which has caused all of Silicon Valley to be moved to the Pacific Rim.

When this flight to Asia was predicted by thinking people, Libertarians reacted by claiming that the U.S. people were the smartest and most talented people on earth and that they would be able to use that knowledge to compete against $1.00 a day labor in developing nations. They also claimed that the jobs that would be lost were worthless anyhow cont..
Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (44) Nov 25, 2011
as the U.S. would transition to a "knowledge based economy."

Finally these Libertarians claimed that any argument suggesting that the American people couldn't compete was a form of anti-American hate speech equivalent to treason.

So How is that Libertarian Vision for America working out for America?

Is it all the lying Libertarians made it out to be?
Vendicar_Decarian
1.2 / 5 (46) Nov 25, 2011
RyggTard..

You are one of those Libertarian/Randite traitors to your nation, aren't you?

Or do you disavow your Libertarian fixation on the open market that has allowed a race to the bottom in production quality and wages as Chinese goods have flooded the American marketplace?

Do you Libertarians still hold that those who report the reality that America's can not compete against cheap Chinese imports are American Traitors?

FrankHerbert
1.4 / 5 (59) Nov 25, 2011
@gregor1
So Vendicar. It's democracy that is the problem now? Is this your real message? Is alarming climate change just a ruse to foment radical revolution? Careful. Your disguise is slipping.


You've only commented on topics having to do with climate change. Seems like your agenda has revealed itself.

http://www.physor...gregor1/

@Marjon
CA destroying its economy? Blame tax policies implemented by Reagan as governor.
Vendicar_Decarian
1.2 / 5 (46) Nov 25, 2011
"You've only commented on topics having to do with climate change." - Herbert

Climate change, Advanced Micro Devices, High speed networking from Japan, Potential violations of c by LHC Neutrino's, vacuum energy, E-Cat Cold Fusion, High Blood pressure and sodium excretion, Energy Policy, Dynamic Casmier force, are some of the other topics I have commented on in the past month.

Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (44) Nov 25, 2011
"CA destroying its economy? Blame tax policies implemented by Reagan as governor." -
herbert

100% Correct.
Howhot
4.6 / 5 (10) Nov 25, 2011
In a world were a certain group of people are bound and determined to trash and pollute the world to the brink of extinction, regardless of any reason; this article was refreshing to read. People in my state actually doing something that makes for a model for the rest of the 49.


Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (44) Nov 26, 2011
Once California has been purged of it's Republican Disease carriers, it will make a fine Canadian province.

http://www.youtub...=related
JohnMoser
1 / 5 (6) Nov 27, 2011
It's like all the most stupid libtard fascists from the Daily Kos come to PhysOrg to spew their hate. There's only a half dozen or so of the dimwits but they've made almost every post. They have no understanding of reality let alone science. These are sad losers who spend their days voting their fellow Kool Aid drinkers up and voting down the few remaining posters who have any common sense. As to the article, the leftist state of Kalifornia has no money left to do anything. Normally we could count on the private sector to produce better products, but sadly the Democrat crooks have just about sucked them dry.
Howhot
5 / 5 (3) Nov 27, 2011
It's like all of the most stupid conservatards from the FreeRepublic come to PhysOrg to spew their hate. There's only a half dozen or so of the dimwits but they've made almost every post. They have no understanding of reality let alone science. These are sad losers who spend their days voting their fellow Kool Aid drinkers up and voting down the few remaining posters who have any common sensse. ... Republican crooks just about sucked everyone off.

Boilerplate.

FrankHerbert
0.8 / 5 (49) Nov 27, 2011
I always enjoy conservative madlibs :)
kochevnik
1 / 5 (1) Nov 27, 2011
It's like all the most stupid libtard fascists
"Libtards" are libertarians. But you are right that many seem fascistic.
CA is on the right track, destroy its economy, forcing people to leave the state cutting the need for cars and power.
Isn't that the Libertarian utopia? You'll be alone to hoard all your gold.
Vendicar_Decarian
0.1 / 5 (34) Nov 28, 2011
"As to the article, the leftist state of Kalifornia has no money left to do anything." - Veronica Moser

As a result of treasonous Republicans in the California Legislature opposing any reasonable policy that will solve the problem.

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