Meeting the Challenge of Our Time: Pathways to a Clean Energy Future for the Northwest is the first economy-wide analysis to examine decarbonization pathways mapped to the Northwest’s economic and institutional realities. The Clean Energy Transition Institute commissioned this study to understand how Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington could technically and economically achieve a low-carbon economy over the next three decades.
Overall demand and supply for clean electricity would increase significantly as electrification decreases liquid fuel and gas demand for the transport, building, and industrial sectors. Biofuels and synthetic liquids produced with clean electricity would significantly reduce the carbon intensity of liquid fuels, while synthetic gas would decarbonize pipeline gas. Coal retirement and new renewable energy would decarbonize the electricity supply.
A major finding of Meeting the Challenge of Our Time: Pathways to a Clean Energy Future for the Northwest is the crucial role that power-to-X will play in 2040–50 to create synthetic gas or synthetic liquid fuels. Power-to-X is a term that describes a variety of different technologies and processes that enable surplus electric power to be stored or used to produce fuels.
Transitioning the Northwest to a low-carbon energy system relies on five decarbonization strategies: energy efficiency, electricity decarbonization, fuel decarbonization, electrification, and carbon capture.