• Katie Pickrell

Massachusetts Clean Energy and Climate Plan

Updated: 7 days ago

Last month, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs released the state’s Energy and Climate Plan for 2025 and 2030 (2025/2030 CECP). The CECP establishes sector-specific emissions targets for Massachusetts in 2025 and 2030, which will reduce statewide GHG emissions by 33% in 2025 and 50% in 2030 relative to 1990 levels.

The CECP was informed by Massachusetts’ 2050 Decarbonization Roadmap released in December 2020, which explored pathways to net-zero emissions in 2050. Study materials can be found here (and the original Roadmap report can be found here).

Evolved Energy Research contributed to the CECP by building on our analysis from the 2050 Roadmap. We refined the Roadmap’s “All Options” pathway, with a particular focus on residential space heating. Using our EnergyPathways and RIO models, we evaluated space heating decarbonization scenarios across the spectrum from clean fuels to full electrification. Details of our methodology and scenarios can be found in Appendix A to the CECP.

The basis for the CECP’s emissions targets, and the lowest cost scenario in our modeling, is a “Phased” approach to space heating electrification. The Phased scenario is similar in 2050 to the high-electrification scenario, but it prioritizes partial-home electric heat pump adoption in the 2020s before pivoting to whole-home heat pump deployment from 2030-2050. (A partial-home heat pump provides all of a building’s cooling and much of its heating need, with a backup gas or propane furnace kicking in during the coldest hours of the year.) This phased approach to heat pump deployment has important implementation advantages: partial-home retrofits are less costly and can be initiated when either a furnace or an air conditioner needs replacement. Starting with partial-home systems will develop workforce capabilities, increase customer familiarity with heat pumps, and potentially deliver cost and performance improvements through deployment at scale.

A phased approach also creates optionality should decarbonized fuel costs and availability improve dramatically in the 2030s. In all decarbonization scenarios, even those with little incremental electrification, gas system throughput declines relative to today—driven by renewables replacing gas in electricity generation, energy efficiency, and modest building stock growth. The combination of declining throughput with higher fuel costs for carbon-neutral gas is a defining challenge in the transition towards low-carbon buildings. Rapid adoption of heat-pumps, with special focus on partial home systems in the 2020s, is a no regret strategy that makes important progress toward interim climate targets while positioning Massachusetts to take advantage of continued innovation to reach 2050 goals.

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