- National Grid on Friday unveiled a new plan to address emissions in three carbon-intensive sectors across its Northeast operating territory of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York.
- The Northeast 80x50 Pathway lays out a proposal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 through decarbonization efforts focused on heating, power generation and transportation.
- Researchers at Rocky Mountain Institute released a report last week concluding the United States could cut 10% of its annual carbon emissions by utilizing electricity to heat residential and commercial buildings.
New research from RMI last week illustrates that broad decarbonization will require efforts across many sectors, including shifting building heat to electric. National Grid's 80x50 strategy takes a similar approach, calling for "three big shifts in our energy systems" that could reduce emissions 40% by 2030 and 80% within three decades.
The plan calls for transforming the heating sector by doubling the rate of efficiency retrofits and "converting nearly all of the region's 5 million oil-heated buildings to electric heat pumps or natural gas." On the power generation side, National Grid's plan includes adding more renewable electricity to achieve a 67% zero-carbon supply. And the utility will work to electrify the transportation sector, setting a goal of more than 10 million electric vehicles on Northeast roads — amounting to about half of all vehicles.
Looking past 2030 to the 80% target, National Grid said the region will require "deeper and more sustained technological innovation on both the grid side and customer side of the meter, coupled with ambitious policy."
The plan says natural gas will continue to play a major role, even with added renewables, and nuclear generation will remain in the mix as well.
National Grid notes that, regionally, "natural gas will continue to play an important role as a reliable fuel source for heat and electricity generation," and "there are also important roles for natural gas in various industrial processes and heavy-duty transport sectors that are difficult to electrify."
In the utility's plan, however, new gas demand in the residential sector is offset by energy efficiency, so even as the "number of residential natural gas customers rises significantly, total usage grows at a comparatively modest pace over the period."
According to National Grid, the region's peak electricity demand will rise 15% by 2030 while emissions from the power sector will decline 29%.