EPRI Study Finds Greater Efficiency In Electric-End Use Technologies

July 07, 2009 by Jeff Shepard

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) released an analysis that found that replacing some fossil-fuel end-use technologies with efficient electric ones in residential, commercial and industrial applications have a potential energy savings of 71.7 quadrillion BTUs, and could result in cumulative CO2 reductions of 4,400 million tons between 2009 and 2030.

More than 60% of CO2 emission in the United States is related to the transportation sector and the direct combustion of fossil fuels in the industrial, commercial, and residential sectors. As the electric sector is decarbonized, electricity as a fuel for transportation and replacing combustion of fossil fuels in the industrial, commercial and residential sectors will lead to overall CO2 reductions.

The EPRI analysis, entitled "The Potential to Reduce CO2 Emissions by Expanding End-Use Applications of Electricity," used the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) 2008 Reference Case as a baseline. The Reference Case accounts for market-driven efficiency improvements, the impact of federally mandated appliance standards and building codes, and rulemaking procedures. It envisions a relatively flat price for electricity in real dollars between 2008 and 2030, and continued contributions of existing utility- and government-sponsored end-use energy programs established before 2008.

The analysis shows that the residential sector holds the greatest potential for energy savings and reductions in CO2 emissions, followed by the commercial and industrial sectors, which are roughly comparable. It found that the reduction of CO2 emissions of 320 million metric tons annually in 2030 could result in a 4.7% decrease in emissions relative to the baseline forecast.

The analysis found two key mechanisms for saving energy and reducing CO2 emissions with electric end-use technologies: upgrading existing electric technologies with demand response measures, such as replacing or retrofitting older equipment with new, innovative, highly-efficient technologies, and expansion of end-use applications of electricity that involves replacing less efficient fossil-fueled end-use technologies – existing and planned – with more efficient electric end-use ones.

"It is clear in order to meaningfully address the issues of climate change we will need to fully explore and develop existing as well as new technologies that will address this important issue," said Mike Howard, a senior vice president at EPRI. "This study explores the greater potential for CO2 reductions through a review of demand-side opportunities, including furthering the advancement and utilization of energy-efficient end-use technologies."