The Economic Case for Electrifying Everything

The Energy Gang


So. Let's turn to our topics this week, and we'll start out with another report that has come out but this one is very different from some of the climate reports. We've been discussing a plan to create millions and millions of jobs by electrifying the economy and slashing emissions eighty, five percent. It's simple. It's elegant and the authors say it is totally doable. The authors are Saul Griffith. Sam College Alex Laskey you might know Saul Griffith we profiled him on a recent what it takes episode and he talked a little bit about how this the the origins of this plan came together and Alex Laskey is the CO founder of power and we profile. His Co founder Dan Yates on a recent what it takes as well. So they're part of a team called rewiring America, which is putting out a series of technical reports, mobilization plans for rapidly electrifying in decarbonising America, and putting a lot of people to work in the process. So there are two parts to this conversation was the actual modelling that goes into the plan, and the other is the economic benefit and jobs claims. So Melissa, let's look at the origins It doesn't start with emissions instead, it looks at decarbonisation the way an engineer might an engineer like yourself walk us through the basis of how they're modeling the decarbonised economy in this report. Is this interesting at you know I've been a model for fifteen plus years i. like modeling thing saying what happens with that? From a modeling approach. I mean frequently when we look at climate mitigation so how do we reduce emissions? We start with an emissions target or frequently in combination of emissions, targets, economic development targets, etc, and then we kind of back our we into what the mix of things could look like to meet that. So it's this top down approach or this perfect foresight. We know what's happening in the future and we back out from there in this report, they really looked at what machines and equipment are out there. What could we get out there and how quickly could we do it and they went from there? So they said, okay, what can we get online if we really double down on this and they broke it into a couple of stages stage one being ramp up production of technologies and Stage two being okay. Let's deploy these things as quickly as possible. So it was this bottom up, call it an engineer's dream because it gives me a lot of tech to play with and look at. But it really gives you the nitty gritty on how do we get this done? So, in this modeling, they mostly focus on electrification unpack how they do that yes. On the electrification side, they look at how do we beef up the supply side of things ahead we get all the power generation we need in line and I've got a lot of thoughts especially around their cost assumptions and what they think we can actually accomplish. Jigger I'm curious what you think about it as well but then on the demand side I mean they also say, okay, every car that gets sold when your targets taking off the road isn't electric one every bit of equipment in your house would replace there's no more combustion it's going to be electric I'm so it's it's essentially a near one, hundred percent replacement rate zero carbon technologies. As soon as you would naturally retire those things they do have a caveat in the report which is interesting of saying they're not forcing you to early retire. Anything, but it would help if you did. I like. I think this is fantastic. Right that it's exactly what we've been saying on the energy gang for seven years right which is that we have the technologies necessary to decarbonised and we have to deploy faster. I think that part of this that. Is still sort of not fitting exactly together for me is what are the forces around here that will make it happen i. You know I think that part of the reason I'm hopeful I had a long conversation with Alex about this, we had a good reconnection in these inspired me to figure out how to get involved with rewiring America but like is it. The when we think about for instance The planned obsolescence of natural gas utilities natural gas utility spent about seventeen billion dollars a year on distribution grids and other sort of Cap Bax. In the local level, you could imagine that they could spend that seventeen billion dollars making all these things come true. So whenever someone's gas boiler? goes out they could replace it with electrify everything solutions and they could actually just charge people thirty bucks a month or whatever for the next twenty years to recoup their their costs right. So there are ways to actually figure out how to do this. But I. Think it's critical for an a report like this to come out I and to say it's actually possible. The math actually works. Now, where's the political willpower to actually make this happen and there's some really interesting insights, a commodity report that I think many of us who've been steeped in this? No but for think the first time watcher is shocking. Right So the energy information, administration and many other sources really always compare solar and wind to primary energy. Right. So the way that the world works is you basically pull oil out of the ground ten percent of all of our energy in the United States and pretty much globally is used to bring this kind of stuff out of the ground and then. You say you know this is how many quads of energy we use as a society right and so of solar and wind come in at two percent of that energy. Then people say look how small it is. But in fact, when that energy actually goes to keep your beer cold as emery, Levin's would say. It loses about seventy percent of its energy through the process right in transporting the oil than like. How to put it into a refinery, converting it into useful fuels like gasoline and diesel. Then actually burning that fuel and you know and creating the electricity that then actually keeps your beer cold all the losses in there are eliminated when you go directly to electricity but in but we are constantly comparing ourselves to primary energy and so part of what this report shows is a week actually eliminate fifty percent of our entire primary energy usage just by electrifying everything right because you lose all those losses

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