Electrification on the Path to Net Zero

HARC Announcement


A Comparison of Studies Examining Opportunities and
Barriers in the United States

Dr. Margaret Cook, Research Associate for HARC’s Energy team, recently co-authored the report, Electrification on the Path to Net Zero: A Comparison of Studies Examining Opportunities and Barriers in the United States. The paper was published by Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy.

With calls for a net zero economy, many studies have tried to outline what that could mean for the US. This new report dives into these studies to examine the consensus and constraints.

As stated in the report’s Executive Summary:

There is a strong and growing consensus that a simultaneously growing and decarbonizing electricity sector is necessary to meet declining greenhouse gas emissions targets. Rallying cries to “electrify everything” have captured the focus of many headlines and policy forums in recent years. However, there are important questions that remain unanswered about the electrify everything movement, including the technical, social, and political feasibility of the approach, as well as the affordability and equitability of implementation. While reducing emissions is paramount in mitigating the negative impacts of the energy system to the environment and human health, it is also critical that changes to energy infrastructure are both socially and politically acceptable, as well as affordable to help ensure an economically vibrant future.

The report outlines common strategies for achieving net zero, including:

  • Reducing fossil fuel use, especially eliminating coal generation;
  • Replacing fossil fuels with carbon free sources, especially wind and solar;
  • Deploying a diverse set of technologies to achieve net zero;
  • Short- and long-term energy storage;
  • Expanded transmission, particularly to reach distributed
    electricity generation and meet increased demands;
  • Increased electrification, such as replacing residential and commercial
    space and water heating;
  • Flexible demands that assist with grid reliability; and
  • Reducing energy demand with energy efficiency and conservation.

To download and read the full report, please click here.