SCE proposes 'pathway' for electric vehicles, clean power

california highway elp

Edison International's Southern California Edison on Oct. 31 said that it has proposed an integrated strategic framework for California to meet its climate and air quality goals.

The approach builds upon existing state programs by identifying cost-effective actions to increase clean energy in the electric system and to leverage that clean electricity in the transportation and building sectors to achieve needed emissions reductions, SCE said.

California’s environmental goals include reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2030, and by 80 percent by 2050, as well as reducing nitrogen oxides and other health-harming pollutants in areas of the state with the highest levels of air pollution by 2032, the company said.

SCE noted that the “Clean Power and Electrification Pathway” calls for three closely linked efforts that support and build upon each other:

·      Doubling the use of carbon-free electricity from 40 percent today to 80 percent by 2030, supported by energy storage. The electric sector has reduced GHG emissions below 1990 levels and now accounts for 19 percent of California’s GHG emissions. The plan calls for increasing the use of large-scale, carbon-free generation such as wind, solar, and large hydroelectric power plants to at least 80 percent of electricity delivered to customers, continued use of distributed rooftop solar and doubling energy efficiency by 2030

·      Accelerating the use of electric vehicles, including passenger cars and medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, to more than seven million by 2030. To encourage consumer acceptance and adoption of electric vehicles, SCE’s proposal urges development of additional charging infrastructure and continued financial incentives that lower the purchase price of electric vehicles during the early stages of adoption, particularly for low- and middle-income communities

·      Increasing electrification of commercial and residential space and water heating. SCE’s plan indicates that the electrification of nearly one-third of residential and commercial space and water heaters, combined with continued improvements in energy efficiency in buildings, could reduce GHG emissions

According to a white paper released on Oct. 31, large-scale renewable energy is likely to be the most important and affordable means of decarbonizing the electric supply. The transmission grid can provide 80 percent carbon-free energy from a combination of renewable resources, which will require the development of 30 GW of additional renewable capacity, the white paper said.

Using a system that relies so heavily on variable resources like wind and solar will require up to 10 additional GW of energy storage from fixed and mobile sources to even out hourly, daily, and seasonal energy imbalances, the white paper noted. Even at today’s levels of renewables, those energy imbalances can result in California’s infamous “duck curve,” or the timing imbalance that exists between solar generation and daily peak load, the white paper said. That creates two problems for today’s power grid:

·      The excess supply of solar at midday, which can lead to shutting down large-scale renewable resources or paying other states to take California’s power

·      The fast ramp-up in generation to reliably cover the late afternoon and evening electricity need as the sun sets, solar generation fades and customer energy demands peak

The extremes of the duck curve can be mitigated by the addition of energy storage at scale, the white paper added.

Reducing or avoiding carbon in the electric sector also requires advances to integrate the clean energy resources that customers are adopting, the white paper noted, adding, “Modernizing the distribution grid with available and evolving technologies will allow these distributed energy resources to be better integrated and optimized, will improve system reliability and safety, and will support our customers’ desire to participate in the clean energy future by making their own energy choices.”

Of accelerating the electrification of the transportation sector, the white paper noted that in order to support at least seven million electric cars by 2030, the state will need to have more than one million away-from-home charging ports.

While the state’s investor-owned and public utilities have initiated charging infrastructure pilots, those pilots alone will not meet the expected scale of light-duty electric vehicle adoption. The white paper added that funding will be needed to enable utilities and charging companies to rapidly deploy more infrastructure and chargers.

An electric system upgrade can take as long as a decade to site, license, build, and commission, the white paper said, adding, “Given this timeline, for the majority of electric power in California to come from renewable and distributed energy resources by 2030, the planning process for additional transmission capacity, new renewable energy development projects, grid modernization and large-scale energy storage investments must start now.”

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