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  • Writer's pictureBen Haley

EER Releases ADP 2023

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

EER's Annual Decarbonization Perspective 2023 (ADP) is the second in a series of annual updates on long-term deep decarbonization pathways for the United States. It provides detailed technical blueprints for the transition of the U.S. economy to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, including the production and use of energy, industrial processes, the land carbon sink, and non-energy greenhouse gas emissions. It uses sophisticated, high-resolution modeling to map the infrastructure changes, technology choices, and investments required in every year to reach net-zero while maintaining U.S. economic productivity, energy security, and electricity system reliability.

The goals of this multi-year research project, supported by Breakthrough Energy, are similar to those of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Annual Energy Outlook (AEO): providing an annually-refreshed objective benchmark that enables better decisions by policy makers, better informed advocacy, and greater clarity for the energy industry and the business community. The AEO is an indispensable tool, but where the AEO’s focus is a long-term forecast based on current policies, the ADP takes as its starting point the requirement to reach net-zero by mid-century, and analyzes the options for getting there.

The ADP uses scenarios to represent fundamentally different net-zero pathway choices for the U.S. These are driven by constraints on decarbonization options, such as limitations on land use and infrastructure siting; restrictions on fuels and technologies such as biomass and nuclear power; and social outcomes such as slow consumer adoption of electric vehicles. ADP 2023 uses the same scenarios used in ADP 2022 and in the scholarly journal AGU Advances in 2021.

Using the same scenarios each year while incorporating the latest developments in technology, cost projections, and policy, the ADP shows how pathways change in response, helping to provide decision-makers with the most current available information on which to base policy, benchmark progress, identify gaps, and highlight opportunities.

Highlights in ADP 2023 include new findings based on new types of analysis, new data and technical information, and new geographies and the expanded use of GIS:

  • Impact of Inflation Reduction Act. ADP 2023 analyzes how IRA kick-starts the adoption of new technologies; affects U.S. emissions; leaves gaps to be addressed by other policies; affects the competitive playing field; and impacts energy spending by households and businesses.

  • Decarbonizing heavy industry. Recent developments in the steel and cement industries indicate a growing number of abatement options. ADP 2023 addresses the decarbonization of heavy industry on a process-by-process basis for the first time, analyzing the potential costs of reaching net-zero in these sectors.

  • Ethanol to jet fuel (ETJ). Many analyses project a decline in U.S. ethanol production as vehicle electrification reduces sales of the gasoline blends that comprise most U.S. ethanol demand. However, new technologies that allow the conversion of ethanol to jet fuel present new economic opportunities for corn producers.

  • Energy parks. The ability to connect generation to loads is one of the principal barriers to achieving higher levels of renewable generation in the U.S. ADP 2023 shows how energy parks, which co-locate fuel production with large-scale renewables projects, can overcome transmission bottlenecks and reduce energy costs.

  • Re-using current infrastructure. Reusing the sites of existing coal and gas plants and retrofitting them with nuclear and/or CCS generation is a valuable opportunity to repurpose existing infrastructure while providing reliable thermal generation in a high-renewables grid.

  • Natural gas with carbon capture and storage. New cost and performance estimates from NREL for natural gas power plants with CCS, combined with the effect of IRA tax incentives, significantly increased the competitiveness of this technology in electricity generation, and nearly doubled the resulting U.S. carbon sequestration requirement.

  • Direct air capture (DAC). ADP 2023 analyzes the relative capture efficiency and cost of the two leading candidate technologies for DAC, liquid solvents and solid sorbents, based on the ambient climate in each state. The need for DAC ranges from zero in some scenarios up to 500 Mt per year in others.

  • State-level results. As with last year’s report, ADP 2023 is accompanied by a publicly available database of results and input assumptions. For the first time, many of these outputs are provided at a state level.

  • Analysis comparability. The ADP is developed in collaboration with Princeton's ZERO Lab, which also partners with Evolved Energy Research on the REPEAT project, which focuses on nearer-term policy questions. Alignment on model inputs allows direct comparison of policy scenarios in REPEAT with pathways from ADP 2023. Princeton’s ZERO lab will also produce geospatial representations of ADP 2023 results in a subsequent report.

The full report materials are available here. The results of this analysis are also publicly available on Rhodium Group’s ClimateDeck.

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