EnergyVision 2030: What the numbers tell us about how to achieve a clean energy system
What impact will current efforts to expand clean energy markets in the Northeast have over time? Where can we do more to advance these markets? What specific increases in clean energy are needed to adequately reduce carbon pollution and meet targets for deep reductions in climate pollution? What does the data show about claims that more natural gas pipeline capacity is needed?
A few years ago, Acadia Center released a framework entitled EnergyVision, which shows that a clean energy future can be achieved in the Northeast by drawing on the benefits of using clean energy to heat our homes, transport us, and generate clean power. Many studies have shown that a clean energy future will improve public health, increase consumer choice, and spur economic growth by keeping consumer energy dollars in the region. States have started to move towards the future put forward in our EnergyVision framework supporting key clean energy technologies like rooftop solar, electric vehicles, and wind, and increasing investments in energy efficiency and upgrades to the grid.
But other voices have tried to slow or even block progress toward a clean energy future. Claims that the region needs more natural gas capacity continue to be made, most recently by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and states are not uniformly moving forward in all areas of clean energy development. Efforts to reform the power grid vary from state to state, and the data needed to identify what our energy system could look like in a few years and what contribution clean energy can make has not been gathered.
To fill these important information gaps and help answer these questions, Acadia Center undertook a comprehensive analysis of the Northeast’s energy system. Using a data based approach, we looked at where current state and regional efforts to expand clean energy stand and what emissions reductions and growth in markets for clean energy technologies those efforts will produce. We then examined what expansions in clean energy are needed to attain state goals to reduce climate pollution. The result is EnergyVision 2030, an analysis of the energy system that provides a clear pathway towards a clean energy future that empowers consumers in the Northeast.
EnergyVision 2030 demonstrates that the Northeast region can be on track to a clean energy system using technologies that are available now. In the last several years, clean technologies have advanced rapidly, and they offer states an unprecedented opportunity to transform the way energy is produced and used. For example:
- The nation’s first offshore wind project has recently come online in Rhode Island
- Electric heat pumps that work in the cold climates of the Northeast are now readily available
- There has been a dramatic increase in the number of electric vehicle options on the market
- Efforts to modernize our electric grid are underway in several states
- Onshore wind is now the lowest-cost electric resource in some reports
- Massachusetts and Rhode Island have redefined the levels of energy efficiency that can be consistently achieved.
And the list goes on.
To determine what growth in key clean energy technologies is needed, Acadia Center used a well-respected model1 to analyze the energy system as it might look in the year 2030 under different conditions. First, EnergyVision 2030 shows what the energy system would look like under current trends, and then if policies were put in place to expand markets for newer technologies more quickly—at rates leading states are already achieving.
With this approach, EnergyVision 2030 finds that the first generation of climate and energy policies has successfully built a foundation for progress. Energy efficiency, renewable portfolio standards, and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) have all contributed to declining emissions since the early 2000s.
To be on track to meet state targets for emissions reductions the region needs to achieve a 45% emissions reduction by 2030.2 We used this 45% reduction as a target to develop our “Primary Scenario,” which features individual targets for clean energy technologies that together would reduce emissions 45%. We also modeled what it would take to get to a 50% reduction, in our “Accelerated Scenario.”
Policy changes drive both of these scenarios, which would see lagging states catch up to leaders like Massachusetts in energy efficiency and other areas, expand and extend renewable portfolio standards as New York has recently done, and grow markets for newer clean energy technologies like electric vehicles and cold climate heat pumps. In other words, if all states did what leading states are doing in each area—if they expanded building heat pumps like Maine, electric vehicles and solar like Vermont, energy efficiency like Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and utility reform like New York—the Northeast would achieve its emissions goals.
The table below shows how much selected clean energy technologies will expand by 2030 under current trends and in the Primary and Accelerated Scenarios.
To foster these clean energy markets, states can redouble their efforts and create a second generation of clean energy policies building on their initial success. The following policy recommendations will help make this possible. A more complete list is available at 2030.acadiacenter.staging.wpengine.com.
- Extend and increase rooftop and community solar
- Expand Renewable Portfolio Standards
- Strengthen market for electric vehicles through consumer incentives and better electric rate design
- Increase the market for heat pumps through incentives and education
- End policies that promote natural gas pipeline expansion
- Modernize and optimize the energy grid
- Reform utility incentives and regulation to better align them with state policy goals
EnergyVision 2030 combines detailed data analysis and policy recommendations to provide a tool for policymakers, advocates, and other stakeholders to demonstrate both why state-level policy changes are needed and what we can do to make those changes happen, putting us on the path to a clean energy system. As with the first generation of clean energy policies, results can take significant time to accumulate, so action is needed now to ensure the region is ready to meet 2030 goals. EnergyVision 2030 gives us the targets and tools we need to begin working toward those policy changes today.
EnergyVision 2030 is available as an interactive website and in printable formats at 2030.acadiacenter.staging.wpengine.com.
New Analysis Shows New England and New York Can Achieve a Clean Energy Economy and Dramatically Reduce Carbon Pollution
Acadia Center’s EnergyVision 2030 Details How States Can Build on Clean Energy Efforts in Four Key Areas
BOSTON—In a new comprehensive analysis, Acadia Center—a non-profit, research and advocacy organization committed to advancing the clean energy future—demonstrates how seven states in the Northeast can spur use of market-ready technologies that empower consumers, control energy costs and advance economic growth while lowering carbon pollution.
Using detailed market data, EnergyVision 2030: Transitioning to a Low-Emissions Energy System shows that efforts by New York and New England to modernize their energy systems and expand clean energy resources are paying off—and by redoubling these efforts, Northeast states will be on the path to a low-carbon economic future and reduce carbon pollution emissions 45% by 2030.
“It’s never been clearer that state leadership is needed to capture the benefits of a clean energy future for residents,” noted Daniel Sosland, president of Acadia Center. “EnergyVision 2030 offers good news: Northeast states are in a position to create a truly modern, clean energy future and provide the economic, consumer and public health benefits associated with a clean energy system,” said Sosland. “The Northeast can exert national leadership in how to reduce pollution, advance consumer options and reinvest energy dollars in the local economy.”
EnergyVision 2030 shows that readily available products, from heat pumps to electric cars to solar panels, create the means for states to advance a consumer-friendly energy system by increasing adoption of clean energy technologies in four key areas—grid modernization, electric generation, buildings and transportation. In many cases, states already have the policy tools they need to increase adoption of these technologies; they must simply improve and accelerate existing mechanisms to achieve the goals set in EnergyVision 2030.
“EnergyVision 2030 presents a practical, “can-do” way forward. It is one of many paths states can choose to take, and provides a vision that states can follow with achievable changes in policy and regulation to secure their place as clean energy leaders,” said Jamie Howland, Director of Acadia’s Climate and Energy Analysis (CLEAN) Center.
EnergyVision 2030 describes exactly how much of each technology needs to be used to shift the energy system. States can support development of renewables by updating their renewable energy requirements to reflect the increased potential and competitive position of clean energy. For example, electric vehicles can grow from present levels to 17% of cars on the road, an average of 41% growth per year—a level certain states are already demonstrating is feasible, like Massachusetts, where electric vehicle sales grew 40% annually from 2014 to 2016.
EnergyVision 2030 can be viewed as an interactive website and in printable formats covering each key area of the energy system and focusing on goals for New York and New England separately and as a region. Access the website at 2030.acadiacenter.staging.wpengine.com. Acadia Center will hold a 15-minute press briefing today, May 9, at 11am in which we will present a summary of the report and give additional time to respond to questions. To sign up for the press briefing click here.
Jamie Howland, Director, Acadia’s Climate and Energy Analysis (CLEAN) Center
email@example.com, 860-246-7121 x201
Krysia Wazny, Communications Director
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Energy Forum Highlights Programs that Help Reduce Demand
…The program, known as DemandLink, was highlighted Friday at a forum on clean energy that was hosted by Acadia Center, a regional environmental group with expertise in energy issues, and the Rhode Island Foundation.
DemandLink is just the type of initiative that Acadia Center wants to see more of as part of a transformation of the New England power system that’s based on expanding energy efficiency, integrating more renewables and ultimately reducing the fossil fuel emissions that are driving climate change…
Envisioning the Energy Future for RI: Making the System Work for Consumers and the Environment
As consumers become more aware of the costs and impacts of energy use on health and the environment, we’re looking for ways to re-envision the energy system. With emerging technologies and approaches, a new system is possible.
Acadia Center invites you to a discussion, hosted by the Rhode Island Foundation, which will lay out a strategic plan to achieve a new system that meets our energy needs and supports a fair, healthy economy and environment.
Acadia Center staff will tell the story of how we can get there. The presentation will draw on the user-friendly visuals, recommendations and original research in our recent reports EnergyVision and UtilityVision, with background on trends from ClimateVision 2020. It will show an optimistic and achievable pathway for making deep greenhouse gas reductions and introduce specific recommendations for advancing a consumer- and environmentally-friendly clean energy future. The presentation portion will be engaging and brief, leaving plenty of time for questions and discussion. We hope you will join us.
Friday, June 26 10 AM – 12 PM
Rhode Island Foundation
1 Union Station
Providence, RI 02903
We encourage you to use public transportation, but the Rhode Island Foundation is generously offering to validate parking.
If you plan to come, please register on our Eventbrite page. The event is free and all are welcome to register.
Looking Forward -Goals for 2015 and Beyond
Planning ahead in the new year, Acadia Center continues our quest for new solutions to propel us toward a clean energy future, one that can drastically reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change. Looking Forward presents our long-term vision and the current initiatives underway to make that vision a reality.
It all starts with EnergyVision : the framework for a clean energy, low-carbon future focused on using advances in clean electricity – phasing out fossil fuels –to heat buildings and power cars. This clean energy future empowers consumers, lowers greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and increases economic productivity. EnergyVision demonstrates that reforms achieved simultaneously in four key sectors will help states reach 80% GHG emissions reductions by 2050 – a crucial target for addressing climate change.
To get there, Acadia Center researches, analyzes data and advocates—together with partners and stakeholders—in order to craft and implement needed policy reforms in four areas: electrification of vehicles and buildings; clean renewable energy; power grid modernization; and energy efficiency. We’re forging ahead and working on the ground to reach these specific goals:
- Reduce GHGs in the transportation sector on many fronts with the goal 10% of new passenger vehicle sales in New England to be electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles by 2020 and for transportation fuels sold in New England to be 10% less carbon intensive by 2020;
- Increase investments in high-efficiency electric heat will bring direct savings to consumers and will avoid the risk of over-reliance on fossil fuels and costly investments in transmission infrastructure or pipelines. We’ll continue to advocate efficiency programs that offer incentives to consumers and help increase adoption of cleaner, cost-effective technologies;
- Remove current barriers in the power grid and regulatory system that hinder increased renewable energy. We’ll work to strengthen and expand the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and update renewable portfolio standards (RPS) to increase demand for renewable resources. We must level the playing field so that renewable power can compete fairly and push for market-based solutions that put a price on pollution in order to drive emissions reductions;
- Develop and launch UtilityVision, a comprehensive, regulatory framework that will result in a fully integrated, flexible, low-carbon consumer-friendly energy network. With the right decisions and investments, consumers will have greater control over energy use within and around the buildings they occupy as homes and as businesses. And, this innovative framework put into practice could bring aggressive GHG reductions. (Stay tuned for more on UtilityVision coming soon.)
The transition to new, broadly electrified energy system that is low-carbon, efficient, and consumer-friendly is already moving forward. That future will be achieved more quickly as we adopt forward-looking policies, uproot outdated technologies and apply new ways of thinking about energy options throughout the year.
Hawk the Vote Election Media Lab Science Debate
Dr. Abigail Anthony of Acadia Center participated in this conversation covering science issues for the mid-term elections in Rhode Island.
Watch the HawktheVote Science Debate