Electrify Everything? Heat and Light in Deep Decarbonization Policies

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Public Utilities Fortnightly

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Climatic changes, Carbon dioxide mitigation -- Economic aspects, Carbon dioxide mitigation -- Social aspects, Climate change mitigation -- Risk analysis


This article explores two essential questions about decarbonization policies. The first is, what happens if we electrify buildings and transport, and then the power goes out for a long time? Risks from long-duration outages are increasing from extreme weather events such as Hurricanes Sandy in 2012, and Harvey in 2017, high-intensity forest fires, and the polar vortex to name a few. Electromagnetic pulses, cyberattacks, and earthquakes round out this starter list of disasters.

The second question is: what happens to vulnerable populations from the financial impacts of other customers leaving the natural gas system? The electric sector has been grappling with this issue on a much smaller scale in recent years with the increased penetration of solar photovoltaics.

This article attempts to highlight some of the logical disconnects and omissions in the current debate. The author has no conflict of interest in this analysis and is strongly supportive of deep decarbonization policies.

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