Cost of Net Zero electrification in U.S.? 13X the U.S. GDP in 2019

Below is the Executive Summary of “The Cost of Net Zero Electrification of the U.S.A.”, which examines the Tanton Report. For the pdf of the full article click here.

By Ken Gregory, P.Eng., Aug. 23, 2022

Many governments have made promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by replacing fossil fuels with solar and wind generated electricity and to electrify the economy. A report by Thomas Tanton estimates a capital cost of US$36.4 trillion for the U.S.A. economy to meet net zero emissions using wind and solar power.

This study identifies several errors in the Tanton report and provides new capital cost estimates using 2019 and 2020 hourly electricity generation data rather than annual average conditions as was done in the Tanton report.

This study finds that the battery costs for replacing all current fossil-fuel-fired electricity with wind and solar generated electricity, using 2020 electricity data, is 111 times that estimated by the Tanton report. The total capital cost of electrification is herein estimated, using 2020 data, at US$290 trillion, or 13.5 times the U.S.A. 2019 gross domestic product.

Overbuilding the solar-plus-wind capacity by 18% reduces overall costs by 17% by reducing battery storage costs. Allowing fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage to provide 60% of the electricity demand dramatically reduces the total costs from US$290 trillion to US$20.5 trillion, which is a reduction of 92.9%. Battery storage costs are highly dependent on the year’s weather and the seasonal shape of electricity demand.

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