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  • Jamil Farbes

Policy for Electricity Decarbonization

Updated: Jan 15, 2021

Today, EER releases a new national analysis on federal policy for a low-carbon, high-renewables electricity system that can enable economy-wide net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050. This work explores the least-cost electricity system consistent with an economy-wide pathway to carbon neutrality and which federal policies can most effectively enable that system. Insights from this whitepaper can support policy development efforts as the incoming Biden administration prepares to rejoin the Paris Agreement and present comprehensive climate legislation in the 117th Congress.

Some of the highlights from the study’s findings include:

  • A least-cost pathway for the U.S. to achieve net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050 has the electricity sector setting the pace, decarbonizing first, fastest, and most deeply. Our analysis identifies specific emission reduction targets for electricity based on the least-cost pathway unfolding across all energy sectors.

  • Effective federal policies for an electricity system that provides reliable service, keeps costs down, and meets decarbonization targets must do the following: meet growing demand from the electrification of vehicles, buildings, and industry; rapidly increase zero-carbon generation, primarily from renewables; retire coal power plants; and maintain the gas generation capacity for reliability, while reducing how often these plants run to limit emissions.

  • Based on our analysis, we recommend a hybrid federal policy package to enable the needed low-carbon, high renewable electricity system that includes three elements: (1) a clean energy standard, (2) a tailored policy or regulatory instrument that focuses on directly and transparently driving the retirement of coal power plants, and (3) direct subsidies for emerging technologies.

This report was made possible by the support of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and their funding partners.

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