Ross Freeman

Convening Stakeholders

The Clean Energy Transition Institute released its first study on June 5, 2019, Meeting the Challenge of Our Time: Pathways to a Clean Energy Future in the Northwest, a deep decarbonization pathways study for Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington(NWDDP study) that shows how the region could attain an 80 percent decrease below1990 carbon emissions levels by 2050.

TheNWDDP study identified five decarbonization pathways for the Northwest as depicted below and raised questions about the barriers and trade-offs for achieving deep decarbonization in the Northwest. In the remaining months of 2019 and throughout 2020, the Institute will work with key influencers in the region to develop a decarbonization implementation plan to guide actions from 2020-2030 by:

  1. Identifying emission targets to attain for 2025 and 2030;
  2. Articulating barriers to deep decarbonization to achieving the targets;
  3. Convening decision-makers to determine how to put the region on a decarbonization path.
Source: Northwest Deep Decarbonization Pathways Study, May 2019, Evolved Energy Research, page 65.

Area of Interest for Convenings

The Institute will convene key stakeholders to discuss the following questions as to how best to implement strategies to achieve the required emission cuts.

Cleaning the Grid:

  • What are the barriers and key actions needed to clean the Northwest grid?
  • What will replace the coal that must be off the grid in Washington state by 2025, as legislation passed during the 2019 session requires?
  • What investments are needed to meet energy and capacity needs and assure grid reliability?
  • What is the role of natural gas on the grid as coal is removed?
  • How and where should solar and wind be developed in the region?
  • What if we don’t hold hydroelectricity constant through 2050, as the NWDDP study did, but assume snowpack declines and hydro is less reliable over the next 30 years?
  • What power would replace generation if the Lower Snake River Dams are removed?
  • What power would replace the Columbia Generating Station if it is retired earlier than 2043?
  • What if small modular reactors (SMRs) were available as a resource in the Northwest? Would they be cost-effective?

Building Electrification and Energy Efficiency:

  • What is the role of energy efficiency, demand management, smart grid technology, and conservation in decarbonizing the Northwest?
  • Can we do a better job of modeling energy efficiency and demand management?
  • What policies would drive more aggressive efficiency and demand-side management?

Role of Natural Gas:

  • How best can natural gas be limited in buildings and on the grid?
  • What is the economic impact of different policies for decreasing gas use in the economy?
  • If methane leakage and flaring emissions are accounted for, how much of a decarbonization solution is natural gas?
  • What if we model natural gas at a higher price point?

Regional Grid Integration:

  • How do we develop the critical path to increasing transmission between the Northwest and California, and other western states, given the significant technical and political issues?
  • What is the total cost impact of the timing and size of upgrades to interregional transmission?
  • What is the benefit of different quantities of added transmission?
  • What are the political difficulties of building new transmission lines?

Biomass Assessment and Use:

  • How best to assess how much actual biomass is available in the Northwest for which uses?
  • What is the status of research at the Northwest universities engaged in biomass/biofuels work over the past decade?
  • What innovation is required to bring biomass to scale for aviation and long-haul trucking?

Vehicle Electrification and Vehicle Mile Reduction:

  • What must happen in 2020 to put the region on the transportation electrification path? Should money be put into passenger EV subsidies that are user-owned or not? Should we require electrified Ubers and Lyfts? What will increase societal demand for EVs?
  • What analytics exist on transportation electrification and what still needs to be examined?
  • What research exists about cost-effectiveness to guide decisions about which transportation sectors are the most important to electrify?
  • What are the impacts of rate of adoption of EVs on total system costs?
  • What is the cost impact of vehicle automation and/or vehicle sharing?
  • What are the challenges to the grid to meet the projected increased load?
  • Who should pay for and own charging infrastructure?
  • How much emphasis needs to be put on behavior change?
  • What role can reducing vehicle miles traveled and increasing access to transit play?
  • What are the policies needed to achieve widespread transportation electrification?

Emerging Technologies:

  • How best to determine the state of emerging technologies, such as power-to-X, electrolysis, direct air capture, and their potential role in the Northwest?

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